HC Deb 21 March 1973 vol 853 cc454-520

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. John Silkin.]

Leave having been given on Tuesday 20th March under Standing Order No. 9 to discuss: the deteriorating situation in the hospital service.

4.15 p.m.

Mr. John Silkin (Deptford)

I realise that this debate will cut into today's business, and I would not have raised the matter in this way had it not seemed to me that we had reached a crisis point in our hospital service. At the last count 29,100 hospital beds were out of action, and the number is likely to increase.

What is terrifying about this situation is that it results from an industrial dispute in an area where there has never been any strike action on pay grounds before; yet in this instance, out of 401 branches of the National Union of Public Employees, 352 voted for industrial action.

This change in the attitude of hospital workers becomes even more impressive when one sees the degree of support that their claims are receiving. Apart altogether from the TUC there are, for example, the Medical Practitioners Union, which says: Everybody working in the NHS knows that since its beginning it has depended on cheap labour", and the BMA, which says: In a just society ancillary workers are entitled to a fair reward for their work. Nor is that attitude confined to those working directly with the hospital workers. The departmental report of the Department of Employment warned the Secretary of State a year ago: That the health service is not threatened by industrial action conflict owes more to the dedication of those employed than to any favourable comparison on the grounds of pay and conditions. The Department's warning was underlined in another sentence: The service has for a long time been able to get by on the goodwill of its employees. There are signs that a more positive approach is needed. There was much to be concerned about. The average earnings for adult male manual workers in manufacturing industry amounted last October to £36½20 a week for 44½1 hours. The Secretary of State admits that the average earnings of adult male ancillary workers are just under £28 a week for 46 hours, or £8 a week less for working longer hours.

Even that bald fact does not show the real situation. More than one-third of male ancillary staff are on shift work and more than two-thirds work weekends. Incidentally, even when they are not working weekends, operating theatre attendants for example often have to remain on standby which means that they must not leave their homes for most of the weekend in case they are required. It is true that they receive extra payment for this burden. They are paid the princely sum of 5p an hour.

Another factor which shows that average manufacturing earnings are not a proper standard of comparison is that more than seven out of every 100 male ancillary staff are in supervisory grades and that, while their earnings may not be all that high, they help to increase the average. The reality of the situation is that 41½3 per cent. of male workers earn less than £25 a week before deductions.

I know how difficult it is to assimilate or give proper weight to percentages and average earnings. For that reason I should like to give the House some examples of the earnings of individual workers in the service. A fortnight ago the West Suffolk Hospital Management Committee invited applications for the post of head porter. I see that the Financial Times yesterday described a head porter as the tin god who runs the show. The advertisement goes some way to support that description because it states that what is required is a person of initiative and drive who will be responsible for the supervision, training and control of 40 staff. For that tin god the basic rate of pay for a 40-hour week is £24½30. There has been no noticeable queue of applicants for the position.

Let us take the case of a pharmacy assistant. His duties, according to the official handbook, include the assembling and dismantling of equipment, the cleaning of glassware equipment, the inspection of fluids for particulate matter and the bulk preparation of fluids such as saline solutions and sterile water, including the mixing, filling, sealing, labelling and packaging of containers and ampoules. His pay is £1916 a week. Incidentally, a woman doing that work receives £16½96.

Let us consider the position of a mortuary attendant. His duties include the opening up and what is euphemistically called the reconstituting of bodies and their disposal, the disposal of specimens and the care of post-mortem instruments. For that work he receives £19½80 a week.

The Secretary of State has said that few men among ancillary workers receive less than £18 a week. That is a misleading view of the situation because 52 per cent. of full-time women workers earn less than £18 a week. Women represent 70 per cent. of the ancillary staff. Incidentally, 19 per cent. of women workers do shift work and 70 per cent. have to work weekends.

These facts, and they are supported by all those who have investigated the state of the service, demonstrate the strength of the hospital workers' claim. Nevertheless it is true that they have been badly paid for a very long time. Why now, for the first time, has the situation boiled up into a major industrial dispute? To understand this we must realise that the hospital workers' last pay award was made in December 1971. As long ago as last July they notified the employers of their intention to make another claim. Early in September they gave them details of it. It was a claim that amounted to £4 a week. There are many hon. Members who, considering the rise in the cost of living during this period and how badly paid the hospital workers are, would regard that as a triumph of moderation.

In early September the management promised to consider the claim and agreed that whatever settlement was reached would run from 13th December. By 27th October—that is, seven or eight weeks later—when no further reaction had been vouchsafed by the management, it was again pressed by the union. We must remember that this was before the pay freeze came into operation. The management was not prepared to make a firm offer because it insisted on awaiting the outcome of Government policy.

The Secretary of State seems pleased with his offer of £2 for men and £1-80 for women. He compares the offer to hospital workers with that given to local government workers, with whom they have been traditionally linked. All the argument, he says, resolves itself into 40p a week as the local government workers have been given £2½40 against the offer to the hospital workers of £2. He leaves us with the impression that the women hospital workers will do better than the local government workers because by October they will have received £2½60 this year—that is, £1½80 now and an 80p equal pay increment in October.

The comparison is misleading. Local government women workers received the full £2½40. In addition they will be getting their equal pay increment in October. The Secretary of State is trying to count his 80p twice, if not three times over, because the increment was agreed as long ago as 1970, and the women received their first equal pay increment in 1971 and their second in 1972. In practice, the gap between the hospital workers and the local government workers will not narrow but widen. Faced with that situation, all those directly concerned have urged the Secretary of State to set up an independent inquiry into the pay of the ancillary workers.

The Secretary of State seemed to assume that his offer to let the Pay Board consider the matter satisfied the demand from the BMA and the TUC. Of course it does no such thing. The BMA makes the simple point that as the Secretary of State refuses to authorise an independent inquiry, presumably the Pay Board will have to do it. What is needed is a speedy decision by a body which will make recommendations which will then be accepted.

The hospital workers are prepared to rest their case on that basis. The BMA and the TUC believe that that is right. Only the Secretary of State and his colleagues continue to prevaricate. The truth is that the Pay Board will not suffice. It can make recommendations but it cannot ensure that its recommendations are carried out. In any event, with the best will in the world, such recommendations will not be translated into increases until December of this year, or two years after the hospital workers received their last increase.

It is no answer to the situation to say that there can be no exceptions to the Government policy. An exceptional injustice requires an exceptional remedy. The duty laid directly on the right hon. Gentleman by Parliament is to take the responsibility for the running of the health service. If he fails to meet the just demands of the workers he will be failing in his duty to the service.

4.28 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Social Services (Sir Keith Joseph)

It might help the House if I now set out the facts, as far as I know them, and the Government's policy. If there are new issues that arise during the debate I shall ask the leave of the House to wind up briefly at the end of the debate.

We all share the great concern about the state of the hospitals. I do not quarrel in general with the figures of the right hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. John Silkin) relating to the present position. There are some 9,000 ancillary workers on strike—that is, about 5 per cent. of the total ancillary staff. There are 300 hospitals directly affected by strikes, and many more are affected by working to rule, go-slows and overtime bans. There are nearly 30,000 beds out of use. That is about 12 per cent. of the acute or mainly acute beds in the National Health Service.

The strike action takes the form of rolling strikes. They continue mostly for limited periods, but with some of indefinite length. They affect the portering, catering, laundry and transport functions of hospitals. The position changes from day to day. As some strikes end and other strikes begin, different hospitals are faced with difficulties at various times. In each case so far a solution has been found.

I acknowledge again that the four unions concerned gave a pledge to maintain essential services, and they have done their best to keep that pledge. In some areas they have had, and are having, difficulty in persuading local union representatives to maintain a reasonable, basic level of essential services. I do not believe that that is for lack of effort at their national headquarters.

I must make it clear that even where steps are taken to keep essential services going there is inevitably a risk to health in the case of people who do not require emergency treatment but for whom delay in admission to hospital may have serious consequences. We have taken the view that the hospital authorities should not appeal for or employ volunteers as long as essential services are being maintained. The reason for this is that the unions have said that they will not keep to their undertaking to maintain essential services in the event of volunteers being employed. It is in the interests of the patients not to risk total disruption of the services.

There are occasionally in the newspapers stories of what I can only describe, although I wish to be moderate, as excessive behaviour here and there, such as a total withdrawal in a particular hospital which I believe goes beyond the unions' own wishes. For my part, I have made it clear to the hospital authorities that if a safe level of essential services cannot be maintained in a hospital they will have to look to volunteers, but that before any such action is taken we put the position to the unions. This has already had to occur in some cases.

Mr. John Silkin

For the information of the House and perhaps of the country, would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the headquarters of the unions concerned have said that if any case of local difficulty arises they will be happy to receive representations from the Department to remedy the matter?

Sir K. Joseph

There has been throughout some sort of hot line operating between my Department and the national headquarters, and I have paid tribute to the efforts of the unions. Despite their efforts, however, they have not always succeeded. There are local negotiations which local hospital authorities are anxious to continue before referring to me so that I can refer to the national headquarters. But, despite their efforts, there are still disputes where essential services are not being supplied.

In these conditions, the hospital service is continuing to serve patients and public, but at the expense of very great efforts by the staff—that is, the nurses, doctors, paramedical and technical staff, administrative staff and so on. I am doing no more than expressing the admiration and gratitude of the country when I pay tribute to the intense efforts of all those concerned in the hospitals.

The conditions vary sharply from place to place and from day to day. In some places, the staff are very tired, particularly where the unions are not managing, despite their efforts, to keep their pledge to maintain essential services. But hon. Members, knowing the qualities of human beings in general and of the staff of the National Health Service in particular, will not be surprised to learn that, whether they are tired or not, in most places, although not all, morale in the hospitals is very high indeed. There is a great strain on the staff, especially the nurses, doctors and administrators, which is sometimes nearly intolerable, but they are managing to keep services going, although not full services. I repeat that this is bound to be damaging to the public.

I turn now to the dispute itself. The ancillary staff are an essential part of the National Health Service. I do not think that anyone in this House, and certainly anyone in the Government, would wish to deny that. There are about 200,000 of them, two-thirds of them women and one-third of them men. They have in common the fact that their duties do not require the possession of professional qualifications, but that does not mean that they are without training or are all unskilled. It is true that unskilled staff are appointed to many grades and many receive appropriate training in hospital— in some cases there are relevant diplomas and certificates, and extra pay available for those who hold them.

We have, therefore, in the ancillary staff a variety of duties and a spectrum of skills which at the bottom correspond to those of unskilled staff and at the top border on those of professionally qualified staff. The basic rates of pay now range from £17½48 to £26½36 for men and £15½28 to £24½28 for women for a 40-hour week. There is a variety of additional payments for night work, shift work, weekend work and overtime. Average earnings for men are £27½90 for an average 46-hour week and for women £20½83 for an average 42-hour week.

Mr. Arthur Bottomley (Middlesbrough, East)

Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that these rates are far too low? Does he recall that the National Board for Prices and Incomes in April 1971 said that the hospital workers in these grades were £3½5 below average earnings in industry and that the National Institute for Economic Research 12 months later said that they were £5 below? Was it not the responsibility of the right hon. Gentleman to deal with the problem then?

Sir K. Joseph

Perhaps I should develop what I have to say. I shall try to meet the point put by the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley).

I was explaining what the average earnings are. The ancillary staff get three weeks' paid holiday as well as the six days' normal paid public holidays. Of course I have studied the Prices and Incomes Board's report. It said that the women—who constitute two-thirds of the ancillary staff—were not low paid but that the men, particularly some of them, were.

Can I assert to the House that the National Health Service presents a model of employment practice in connection with ancillary staff? No, I cannot. It is no revelation that, as the report mentioned by the right hon. Member for Deptford disclosed, the personnel habits of the National Health Service have not been a model. But we have recognised that, and in the reorganised service which, if Parliament approves, will come into force in April next year we have made provision for the first time for personnel departments throughout the National Health Service, and a great deal of training in preparation for them is now going on.

Before I go on, I must emphasise that I am not seeking to negotiate with the unions, and anything I say today is not by way of negotiation but by way of reporting the facts.

It is normal, as the right hon. Member for Deptford said, for National Health service ancillary workers to reach the same settlement as the local government workers. The fact is that last year, after the failure of the Government-CBI-TUC tripartite talks—at the end of the day because of the TUC's unwillingness to agree to a voluntary policy—the Govern- ment imposed a standstill. The standstill was on such a date that the local government settlement got through while the hospital ancillary workers were caught.

In the outcome, the local government workers had their pay increased by £2½40 and received two days' extra holiday, whereas under the stage 2 formula, which is all that is available until the autumn for the ancillary workers, they are allowed only £1 plus 4 per cent., which has come out at £2 for the men and £1½80 for the women, with an extra 80p for the women from October as an extra step towards equal pay. That extra pay—£2 for men, £1½80 for women—is available from last week. It will bring the basic pay up to £19½48 for men and £17½08 for women and will bring the average earnings up to over £30 for men and nearly £23 for women. So there is extra money available now.

Mr. Neil McBride (Swansea, East)

Is the right hon. Gentleman not being illogical? He is quoting the figures for earnings, but is not the freeze formula of £1 plus 4 per cent. for earnings for the basic week? Would it not be better to consider the basic wage? It would be more illuminating, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Mr. John Silkin) said.

Sir K. Joseph

I am certainly willing to express it in terms of the basic wage. In such terms, it represents an offer, available now, of an 11 per cent. increase for men on the basic rate. The hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. McBride) asked me to express the incomes in terms of the basic rate although I have been scrupulously avoiding doing so because we are dealing with the whole range of rates.

Never before, I believe, have the hospital workers been offered an increase so very close to the increase available to those with much higher pay. That is one result of the stage 2 formula. But, of course, the Government accept that the ancillary workers have been disappointed. They have not got the same as the local government workers. It is a case not just as I have sometimes said by way of shorthand, of 40p per week but that they have also suffered deferment of three months compared with local government workers. The Government acknowledge this disappointment. That is why they have particularly required the Pay Board to look at the anomalies and why the unions have been invited to take such anomalies before the Pay Board.

The right hon. Member for Deptford and the Opposition suggest that there should be an individual inquiry. But individual inquiries, as the country and successive Governments have found to their cost over recent years, on the whole solve only one problem at the cost of starting a whole series of other interrelated problems. The Government do not intend to make any exceptions during stage 2. Because of the repercussions of one exception on all other unions, there can be no case whatsoever for a separate inquiry.

The Pay Board has been specifically required to examine a whole range of pay anomalies and the problems of relativities which may be taken to it and to recommend, on the merits of the various groups, how best to deal with them in stage 3. The board has been asked to recommend in time for stage 3 so that the Government can take its recommendations on these matters into account in putting to the House proposals for stage 3, which will start in the autumn.

I remind the House that the hospital ancillaries would normally expect another increase in December. Their next increase could take into account within the stage 3 policy the Government's reactions to the advice of the Pay Board. I repeat that we cannot treat the hospital ancillaries as a special case. A number of groups and unions are also seeking special treatment. They would press all the harder for themselves if an exception were made even for the hospital workers.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

The Secretary of State has just declared that one reason why this impasse has been reached with the hospital workers and, indeed, all other workers, is that an inquiry or series of inquiries—I assume that he had Wilberforce in mind—has resulted in the present situation. Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that he is not only suggesting that there can be no inquiry into this case but that, presumably if Wilberforce and others produced the situation we now have, making the general declaration that there can be no further inquiries in phase 2, phase 3, or thereafter?

Sir K. Joseph

The Pay Board has been set up so that individual anomalies and problems about relativities can be considered not in isolation but in relation to each other within the total pay policy and strategy of the Government to abate inflation. I am sure that the whole country understands and approves that policy. I repeat: the stage 2 policy is essential not only for the nation but particularly for the lower-paid. It is the lower-paid who suffer most in a free-for-all. Freedom for the large, higher-paid battalions to raise their pay beyond any possible increase in productivity must mean higher prices for the less well paid.

So I repeat my advice to the unions. They have made their point that they feel they need special attention and that they have been disappointed by the effects of the standstill coupled with stage 2. Let them accept the £2 per week extra for men and the £1½80 per week for women with the further 80p per week for women in October that is there waiting for their members. Let them accept the offer take their case to the Pay Board and go back to their work of serving the patients and co-operating with the hospital staff.

The Government will not give way, even to the hospital workers, because of the repercussions on other unions. The national interest is at stake. I repeat, with all the emphasis at my command, that the delay in settling this dispute is damaging to the public, straining the hospital service, and deferring the drawing of the extra money now available.

With some relish, having been carefully moderate, I now turn to a separate issue —the credentials of the Opposition to raise this whole subject. What did the Opposition, when in Government, do for the hospital ancillaries? I hope that the right hon. Gentleman has looked up the record.

During the period of the Labour Government prices rose by 30 per cent. [Interruption.] I shall disclose the true comparison. During the six years of the Labour Government prices rose— [Interruption]—wait for it; the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huck-field) has not been hurt yet—by 30 per cent. The basic rate of pay for male ancillaries was increased during the same period by 33 per cent. So, even in gross terms, the basic pay of male ancillary workers, at which the right hon. Gentleman righteously pointed the finger, only just kept pace with prices. But in net terms the male and female ancillary workers did very badly under Labour because in their six years taxation rose and the tax threshold fell. If we are talking of the low-paid—to some extent we are—not only did the Labour Government raise taxation and lower the tax threshold—this cannot be denied—but they raised the national insurance contribution for the low-paid. The result was that the ancillary workers finished up a period of six years of Labour rule with less purchasing power than when they began.

Mr. Roland Moyle (Lewisham, North)

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that under the Labour Government's prices and incomes policy the National Board for prices and incomes indicated how the Health Service workers might raise their pay by another 10 per cent. above the rates that he is quoting? What will this Government's prices and incomes policy do for them?

Sir K. Joseph

Neither my Labour Government predecessors nor I can take much pride at the speed with which incentive schemes have been introduced into the service. The schemes are there, but they have not been put into rapid use.

During this Government's period in office—I know that the Opposition are looking forward to the comparison—prices have risen, admittedly in a shorter period —no one on this side of the House is either proud or happy about that—about 23 per cent. while the basic pay rates for male ancillaries, including this £2 now available, have risen by no less than 42 per cent., which is nearly double the increase in prices. So the ancillary workers are very much better off now.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield (Nuneaton)

What is the percentage without the £2?

Sir K. Joseph

The £2 is available for them to draw now.

Mr. William Price (Rugby)

Why is the right hon. Gentleman grinning?

Sir K. Joseph

Because the Opposition chose a subject to make political mileage out of it, not in any sense in the national interest, and because, after scrupulously telling the House and the country the facts, I am entitled to rub in some political facts, too.

Dr. Shirley Summerskill (Halifax)

Is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting that the reason why the hospital ancillary workers are on strike today is to make political mileage or to draw attention to their difficulty in trying to make ends meet out of the inadequate pay that they receive from this Government?

Sir K. Joseph

I am commenting on the credentials of the Opposition to raise this subject, and I am entitled to do so. This is a separate part of my speech from the comment on the dispute, the hospitals, and the unions. I was giving the House the picture that, in gross terms, the basic pay rate of male ancillary workers, which is nothing to do with earnings, has risen during our years in office nearly double, but not quite, that of prices.

When it comes to net spending power —and the House should remember that under Labour direct taxation went up, the tax threshold was lowered, which meant that poorer people came into direct taxation, and the flat rate national insurance contribution rose remorselessly every time there was an uprating—it should be realised that over the last two and a half years direct taxes have been lowered, the tax threshold in real terms has been raised and the national insurance contribution has been held meticulously to the same figure, or even lowered for the lower-paid. I am therefore entitled to say that whatever the strong feelings on the subject—and I do not doubt them —the fact is that ancillary workers have done better under the Conservative Government than they did under Labour.

Mr. John Silkin

Perhaps the Secretary of State will explain why, in this Conservative Utopia about which he has been talking, ancillary workers are on strike, although they did not go on strike when the Labour Government were in power.

Sir K. Joseph

I think that there were some grave disappointments at the time of the operation of the standstill. I do not deny for a moment the strong feelings of the ancillary workers, or of some of them. I do not deny that they are essential to the National Health Service. I do not deny that they have been disappointed. I do deny that their case is helped one jot by the humbug of the Opposition.

4.52 p.m.

Mr. Peter Hardy (Rother Valley)

It was a great pity that the Secretary of State sought to introduce a rather unnecessary note and to play party politics by quoting statistics and referring rather misleadingly to tax thresholds and that sort of thing. What the right hon. Gentleman should realise is that we are not here to quote statistics which can mean many things. We are here to talk about the real feelings which motivate hospital ancillary workers, and it is relevant that the militancy and anger which they are now exhibiting was never shown during the time of the Labour Government.

The right hon. Gentleman was right to say that the unions concerned were conducting themselves extremely responsibly. One welcomes that rather grudging concession. The right hon. Gentleman was also right to say that there were some risks if the advice of the national trade unions was not followed, but there is a real long-term risk if the hospital workers' case is not given more favourable consideration than it has received so far. The risk can be seen by drawing a parallel with what happened in the 'fifties when there was a real wage drift for the hospital workers and people engaged in local authority employment generally. In many areas the effect of that was muted by the influx of Commonwealth citizens. Had there not been that influx in the 'fifties and early 'sixties the hospital service would probably have been very badly placed indeed.

If there is a wage drift for hospital workers, and if the Government's economic plans are fulfilled and there is a 5 per cent. growth and that sort of thing, there is likely to be a further move away from employment in the public sector, in the hospitals and elsewhere. If that happens, the risk to the National Health Service will be considerable because it may be difficult to employ an adequate number of people or it may be necessary to insist upon an excessive amount of overtime being worked by those who are employed in the service.

A great deal is said about the hospital workers creating a risk in the short term, but not enough attention is given to these real long-term risks, of which the workers are acutely aware. They are concerned not merely with their personal standards. They are concerned about the continuing high quality of service which should be available in our hospitals. They are not suggesting that there should be rampant flexibility, although that seems to be preferable to many aspects of current policy. They are suggesting that there is a case for flexibility, for discrimination on behalf of justice in order to allow the lower-paid workers in our hospitals a reasonable standard of living at a time when food prices, for example, are rising rather more rapidly and sharply than the Secretary of State's figures suggest. They believe that they have a strong case. They believe it is wrong that people should have to work a considerable amount of overtime in order to earn only two-thirds of the national average level of earnings.

In Committee on the Counter-Inflation Bill I wanted to speak about the pay of hospital workers. I had with me the details of a number of individuals employed in the service. The hon. Gentleman who preceded me in the debate quoted cases which were more severe and more unpleasant than those which I had taken to the Committee. He quoted from the pay slip of a hospital porter who was takinghome£17 and a few coppers a week, and those few coppers matter a great deal to people such as hospital porters. For a wage of £17 and a few coppers a week, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) reminded the House during Questions to the Prime Minister yesterday, a man may have to perform many extremely unenviable tasks. The work of hospital porters is so difficult and unpleasant that we ought not to reward them with the princely sum of £17 even if it is accompanied by a few extra coppers.

I felt it important to take part in this debate because I have an interest, and in view of the exchanges following the statement on the Farm Price Review I had better declare it. I am a member of the National Union of Public Employees.

One regrets the tone of anger and the mood of militancy being experienced in many parts of Britain today, but one can understand it, and it seems to me that it would be wise in the long-term interests of society, and certainly in the long-term interests of the hospital service, that the Government should concede that the hospital workers' case is an extremely just one and that every consideration should be given to it so that they can live decently and have some leisure. At present they cannot live decently and have any real leisure because, in order to exist, the number of hours of overtime which they have to work is so considerable that they are deprived of the normal opportunities for leisure activities. The Government should consider their case in order to give them the opportunity to live decently and to have adequate leisure, and allow a note of sanity and reason to be re-introduced into this important part of the public sector.

If the Government are not prepared to concede that this is a special case, the result will be militancy and anger. They will add to the real despair which hospital workers are currently experiencing. I hope that the Government will see that there is reason in the case being presented by the hospital workers and that it will make the necessary concessions at an early date.

4.58 p.m.

Dame Patricia Hornsby-Smith (Chislehurst)

I support the clear and fair statement which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made about an issue which saddens many of us who have been associated with the hospital service.

I should like first to say something about the trend of Opposition speeches during the last few weeks. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have poured out millions of words, in this House and outside it, against inflation. They know full well, as we do, that steps to cure this disease always hurt but that if we fail everyone will suffer, most of all the lower paid.

Knowing and condemning, as they do, the virulence of this infection of inflation, are not Opposition Members playing skittles with the House by picking out one industry after another as though they were ninepins and claiming at various periods that each and every one is an exceptional case, with the sole aim of trying to break our fight against inflation? They seek to stultify the Government's determined effort to break inflation. At least some of the unions are more open in their utterances and their propaganda, since they are claiming that the prime aim is to get the Government out. They are prepared, in the words of one circular that I have received, to use "all and every means" to do it—even, in this case, by condemning many of those who are sick to wait for the care they need.

I join my right hon. Friend in a tribute to those hospital workers—and there are many of them, within and without the union—who have not gone on strike and who have put the needs of the patient first. The Press, radio and television have concentrated on the breakdowns. The hospitals which have maintained services—and they are many—are frightened to say so lest militants arrive and force their loyal workers out—

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)


Dame Patricia Hornsby-Smith

It is no nonsense. I have carefully checked the statements that I am making.

Mr. Heffer


Dame Patricia Hornsby-Smith

Hundreds of hospitals are operating with an adequate, but not a full, service; they are being maintained by the devoted work of people many of whom have flatly refused to join any strike action. By keeping silent because they want to continue the full services to the patient, they are achieving those services but they are also allowing others to inflate the support which is being claimed for the strike.

Some of the tactics which are used endanger health and threaten those least able to bear it—the sick and the maimed. I join my right hon. Friend and the right hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. John Silkin) in their tribute to doctors and nurses who are working far beyond the call of duty, or perhaps with that higher sense of duty and dedication which believes that the patient comes first.

There is feeling equally as strong as that voiced by Labour hon. Members on behalf of the unions on the part of many voluntary workers who habitually aid their hospitals by regular attendances every week. Many of them are hopping mad at the union checking their hours and activities. Even when relatives arrive, anxious to help their kith and kin who are in hospital, they are told to "buzz off".

One wonders what liberty of the subject means. It seems to mean liberty for the striker and obedience for the rest of society. I should like to ask my right hon. Friend, or possibly, through him, the Attorney-General, by what legal right pickets stop and question voluntary workers. By what legal right do their leaders prowl the hospitals to question volunteers? As one volunteer said of a roving watcher, "That damned man's been sitting here guzzling our tea for three hours, waiting to pounce and make trouble". This was a picket in a voluntarily manned out-patients' tea bar.

My right hon. Friend has leaned over backwards to be conciliatory in this matter. As we all know, he has discouraged new volunteers from going in to help the hospitals. He has discouraged many thousands of people who would willingly have given their services. He has done this to keep the union's temperature down. All I can tell him is that the public's temperature is rapidly rising.

With regard to the claim itself, no one today has mentioned that it represents £100 million and would increase the wages bill by 41 per cent. Can anybody say that the acceptance of a claim for a 41 per cent. rise would not make utter nonsense of the Government's intention to halt inflation and of the whole structure of the pay and prices procedure? This is probably the biggest claim on record. To hon. Members opposite, this 41 per cent. is apparently not inflationary—

Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)

When did the right hon. Lady last live on £21 a week?

Dame Patricia Hornsby-Smith

When I was Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department.

Mr. Joseph Ashton (Bassetlaw)

For how many hours?

Dame Patricia Hornsby-Smith

Inevitably, this claim would be followed by nurses and doctors claiming that, despite all their skills and often longer hours, they were getting less than the porters, stokers and cooks—as in some cases is the fact. It would inevitably be followed by rival claims by some who have not done as well in the wage spiral as others. It would be followed by teachers, by railwaymen and by civil servants, ail of whom would point to this 41 per cent.

The offer made by my right hon. Friend constitutes an 11 per cent. rise, much higher than Opposition Members, now so full of righteous indignation, ever found it possible to give during their time in office. The offer is available at once and afterwards negotiations could iron out the anomalies of the lower-paid in preparation for phase 3.

One thing which is lamentable is that it has become the custom for strikers, in whatever industry they may be, to refer to the basic pay of the lowest grade as if it applied to them all. Along with millions of viewers, I heard a representative of the hospital workers repeatedly refer to the £l8 a week of hospital workers, when 27.8 per cent. earn over £35 per week—[An HON. MEMBER: "How many?"]—and 54 per cent. earn between £22 and £35. Only 4.3 per cent. earn under £19—a very different picture from that presented by the mass media.

My right hon. Friend has very fairly stated the average earnings, and these could immediately be augmented by the £2 for men and £1.80, with an additional 80p in October for women. An 11 per cent. rise, at a time when every right-thinking person is trying to halt inflation, is a reasonable offer which should be accepted.

Over the years, particularly when I was at the Ministry of Health, I have been privileged to visit over 300 hospitals. I have been proud to give the staff the credit which was their due for their skill, their kindness and their consideration for the patient. To refuse an 11 per cent. rise and to claim a 41 per cent. rise is in my view unrealistic and unjustifiable. To use it as a weapon against the most susceptible group of society—the sick— is to renounce the high ideals of putting the patient first.

We all deplore the limitations imposed on these vital services by a minority— I still insist that it is a minority—seeking to wreck the Government's effort to halt inflation, an aim which is in the interests of everyone. I am sorry for the larger number of workers who are sick at heart at not being allowed to render a full and proper service, as they normally and willingly do, to the patients.

I join my right hon. Friend in hoping that hospital staff will accept the current offer and bring this sorry episode to an end. I join him in rejecting the Opposition's case.

5.10 p.m.

Mr. Richard Crossman (Coventry, East)

I shall not detain the House for long. I wish to reply to the Secretary of State.

Before that, however, I have something to say to the right hon. Member for Chislehurst (Dame Patricia Hornsby-Smith). One may just say, "Oh, it is militants", and in a way I wish that that were true. But the really serious thing about the present situation is that the unions dealing with this are not militant unions, nor is it militant minorities of those unions. The serious situation is that people who never dreamed of striking, who never conceived of it two or three years ago—and this is why, in a sense, we were lucky to have it out —have now been driven by desperation to take to methods which were profoundly repugnant to them. In a way, this makes them more bloody-minded than if they had been professional militants.

It is a very much more serious situation than anything which the right hon. Lady cares to say. I wish that she could accept that it is too easy to say that this is just some secret conspiracy, with militants coming in and organising it. It is not like that at all. It is people who have had these difficulties for too long. They are in the public sector and know what has happened to the public sector. They look back to the 1930s when they were protected people and took desperately low wages because they were not unemployed. They got into the habit of low wages and got deeply committed to low wages. They have watched it happen since then, and they cannot take it any more.

I greatly respect the Secretary of State. We can all have long talks about credentials. This is the kind of repartee of which the country is absolutely sick. However, as the right hon. Gentleman likes it, I put one question to him. What credential has he to insist on absolute obedience to a statutory wages policy? He is the most ideological of all Tories. He taught the wickedness of the statutory wages policy. He fought the last General Election on it. He made solemn promises that, whatever happened under the Tories, there would not be one. What credentials has he to lecture the country on the absolute necessity for absolute obedience to an absolute statutory incomes policy? What impertinence.

We can cancel out various kinds of argument. On television we are required to make fools of ourselves in public. But why should we make fools of ourselves in the House of Commons when we are discussing a serious problem? I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman cancels out the arguments from his future speeches and returns to his old style, which was better worded, and which I liked more.

Having said that, we can all be a little more honest. The right hon. Gentleman has repudiated all his principles. He has learned from experience, he came in with complete laissez-faire. He said "I can handle the whole damned thing without Government intervention. We can handle it without that." Now he is intervening more than any other Minister. He has learned the necessity for intervention.

The Labour Party has made mistakes. We have intervened. We had a statutory prices policy. I have become opposed to a statutory wages policy by what I have learned. I learned the lessons which the Tories are now learning. We introduced this thing and tried to make it work. We discovered that if one has it, one has to have rigidity. The right hon. Gentleman is quite right when he says that to make a statutory policy work, even for a short time, Ministers have to be totally rigid, totally irrational—and stimulate the very militancy and extremism which the policy is designed to suppress.

The whole of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was on one point. He said " If I make one exception, the flood will come." Let me tell him from personal experience that in 1970 I was placed in his position. I had a very powerful persuasive and charming Minister in charge of labour who had a 3½ per cent. norm. I had a nurses' wage claim of 35 per cent. or 40 per cent.—about the same as the right hon. Member for Chislehurst thinks is the size of the claim we are discussing. I wondered whether to bring it down to 3½ per cent. That is what my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) wanted me to do. She insisted that it was absolutely essential, otherwise the whole policy would break down. I settled for 23½ per cent., and I staved off a nurses' strike.

Will the right hon. Gentleman treat the nurses this way, saying "I must treat you exactly like the ancillary workers because there can be no exception", or will he do a little cheating and wriggling and give the nurses more than the ancillary workers by some trick, perhaps with pensions, or with something else? I say to the right hon. Gentleman that he should not be so moral about what he does. He has just learned too extremely his abandonment of laissez-faire. He is now intervening in a statutory, totalitarian and militant way. It is a militant conversion. He is suddenly converted to intervention, doing it in an ultra extreme way, such as we all started with.

All that I beg of the right hon. Gentleman is that he be humble and reasonable. He will have to come to concordats with the union. He will have to make concessions. He will have to do that sooner or later.

I was delighted to see in the gas industry sanity and ingenuity coming, ingeniously getting round the confounded norm and paying the same by tricks. If a nationalised industry chairman can do that, the Secretary of State could be ingenious and open minded, finding ways not just of getting out of the difficulty. How tempting it is to have that touch of masochism which the right hon. Gentleman has in his nature, of saying "Because I represent these workers in the Cabinet, I must prove my high-mindedness by repudiating any help to them." We had Ministers like that. They were unbearable prigs. Whatever other vices I have, I do not have that particular one. When I was in a Department, I fought for the Department.

When it comes to the nurses or the ancillary workers, it is the Secretary of State's job to say to the Cabinet "I am sorry, gentlemen, but it makes no sense. I have the nurses' claim coming up and the ancilliary workers' claim. In my health service we cannot have this rigidity. We must be like the gas industry and find a method of easing our way through. It is no good telling me that on 31st December the matter will be all right, because this summer will be very bad in the hospitals."

If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that this dispute will not continue just because he has made another speech saying "I am King Canute" he is wrong.

5.17 p.m.

Sir Paul Bryan (Howden)

The debate so far has centred on the grievances of the hospital workers, many of which are very genuine, and the refusal of the Government to set up an inquiry and to treat them as a special case. The cause of this situation, however, goes much deeper than anything we have yet discussed. I do not apologise for going rather further back than we have done so far in our argument.

In a democracy, by definition, we depend on the will of the people to be able to carry on our institutions. The fact that we have only one policeman per 700 people shows that it is not the law or the police that maintain the law but the fact that most of those 700 people are willing to support it. Our industrial relations, through the voluntary system of bargaining which we have had for many years, have depended on people wanting the system to work, and on both sides behaving in such a way that it had a chance of working. In other words, it involved compromise, give and take, and not using one's strength on either side to its ultimate conclusion.

The background to this debate is the failure of all of us—Government, trade unions, employers and employees—to achieve and sustain conditions necessary for voluntary collective bargaining. That failure is why the Government have been driven to a statutory incomes policy which—here I agree with the right hon. Gentleman opposite—we never meant to attempt.

I say that we failed, but we did not fail by much. When we came to power in June 1970 the rate of rise in incomes was about 16 per cent. By the autumn of 1971 we had got it down to about 7 per cent. That was a considerable achievement. That was by voluntary methods, persuasion, propaganda—by any fair method available. At the same time as wages rose by 7 per cent. the cost of living rose by only 6 per cent. Up to then, things went well.

I remember that autumn very well, because I was at the Department of Employment when half a dozen wage negotiations came up—in the gas industry, local government, water, hospital ancillary workers, electricity workers, and so on. All those were settled at between 7 per cent. and 8 per cent.

Then came the coal strike. Whatever the merits of that strike and whatever misjudgments were made—certainly the Government made some misjudgments then—there were two results which are pertinent today. First, the scale of the increase which was achieved by that strike blew the voluntary policy sky-high. The only thing which could have saved it from then onwards was co-operation by the trade unions, which is what the Prime Minister and his colleagues tried to obtain in those long talks from July to November.

The second result of that strike was the discrediting of the Wilberforce type inquiry. By "discrediting" I do not imply anything dishonest. I mean discrediting in terms of an anti-inflation policy. There had been many such inquiries—into the docks, the electricity industry, and so on—and all had been conducted by thoroughly competent and honest people, but they had invariably found the individual industry to be a particular case and that particular case worthy of an inflationary settlement.

This is why one essential of a statutory incomes policy is that there must be an end to that sort of inquiry into individual industries. It must be replaced by a Pay Board which will judge each industry not only on its own merits but also on its merits in relation to all industry and in relation to the whole population.

Many people do not appear yet to realise, or do not want to realise, that the Pay Board is taking over. The Opposition certainly realise that it is, but they do not want to pass it on. The Trades Union Congress advocates inquiries the whole time, but it knows full well that the Government cannot concede an inquiry. The TUC knows that to give exceptional treatment to one union would undoubtedly result in a score of other requests.

The next charge which is made is that the Government are inflexible and that they have got themselves into a position in which they cannot manoeuvre and from which they cannot retreat. I think that this is true, but to a certain extent it is by design. A golden rule in industrial relations is for both sides to leave themselves room for manoeuvre and a route of retreat. However, there are exceptions, even to golden rules. This time the Government have rightly left no route of retreat for this short period.

The Opposition should realise that it is wrong to encourage the hospital workers or any other group of workers to believe that the Government will or can retreat. It is absolutely untrue that this policy means that the hospital workers are facing rigidity and lack of consideration. The Secretary of State has described the amount they can have at once. After that, let them be assured that they can go straight to the Pay Board, and their case is bound to get early consideration and, I should have thought, a pretty sympathetic hearing. I ask the hospital workers to have patience, and I wish them luck at the Pay Board.

5.25 p.m.

Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)

As I listened to the right hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) I could not help reflecting that one of the happiest results of the last General Election was his relegation to the back benches. When I heard him advise the Secretary of State to be humble I could not help recollecting his performance at the Dispatch Box when he was a Minister and when he was anything but humble.

Mr. Alec Jones (Rhondda, West)

The hon. and learned Gentleman was not here all that often to have observed it.

Mr. Hooson

I was here more often than the hon. Gentleman.

I disagreed with the right hon. Gentleman's assertion that the ancillary workers in hospitals had been driven into this tragic strike—tragic for the whole country—by despair. They have been driven to it not by despair but by the success of other militants in achieving what they failed to achieved by reason and negotiation.

The right hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. John Silkin), in a very striking phrase, said that exceptional injustices require exceptional remedies. I hope that I quote the right hon. Gentleman correctly. That was a viewpoint that the Labour Government never accepted. The Labour Government did not accept that there were exceptional remedies for exceptional injustices.

The truth of our present situation is surely this. Many groups of workers and professional people have had very large rises in real earnings over the past few years. Faced with inflation, it has been much easier for any Government, Labour or Conservative, to control the public sector, to put the screws on the public sector.

Collective bargaining makes a good deal of sense in free enterprise, where there are employers and employees at arm's length, as it were, and where the employers do not depend upon the public purse. When the employers depend upon the public purse, as they do in the public sector, it is so easy for any Government—the Labour Government did this every bit as much as the Conservative Government—to put the squeezes on there and control the public sector first. If hon. Members are to bandy records about and simply make it party political, it is fair to point out that the Government have at least as much ammunition to use against the Labour Opposition for what they failed to perform in government as have the Opposition to aim at the Government.

However, that is no answer to the real problem. The real problem surely is that there are millions of people who are suffering exceptional injustice, in the sense that they have been conditioned by the enormous general increase in the country's wealth and other factors to have a growing expectation of enjoying a greater part of it than they have been used to. It is, therefore, natural for them to press for wage increases.

When a Government are driven, as were this Goverment, to adopting a statutory prices and incomes policy very suddenly, involving a complete change-round from their previous policy, many people were bound to believe, and rightly in a sense, that they were suffering a grave injustice. So it happened this time. It happened exactly the same under the Labour Government.

Now it is said that an exception should be made of hospital workers. Goodness knows, they have a first-class case, as the right hon. Member for Deptford proved. Such a case could equally be made for farm workers and for at least 20 other groups of workers. If what are in many ways the perfectly reasonable and legitimate claims of the hospital workers were to be recognised, the effect on the country generally and on inflation would be great.

Therefore we come to what seems to me the kernel of the debate. Of course, the ancillary workers have a good case, as do many other groups of workers. Of course the Government have a good case; but the country has a good case, too. The country's case is that the greatest threat to our civilisation, to our standard of living and to everything else is inflation. I believe in a statutory prices and incomes policy. I believed in it under a Labour Government and I still believe in it. The great trouble with the price policies of the Labour Party and the Tory Party is that they were introduced at short notice to deal with crises, and they were bound to result in causing a burning sense of injustice among many people. At present, it is necessary to increase the earnings of the lower-paid as soon as possible, and, in order to do that and in order to be fair all round, the wages of the top earners have to be pegged. But there are so many groups pressing for increased earnings, for a greater share of the national reward, who are not willing to be held down while the lower-paid get increases. That is the dilemma which faces this country just as it faced us at the time of the Labour Government.

We cannot at present make an exception of any group of workers. The greatest failure of the Government is not in what they are doing now but in what they did in their first two years in power. We are paying for the Tory policy of the last General Election, which was when the Government went wrong, when all the strongly organised groups got their rises. If we see a sense of frustration among the ancillary workers in the hospitals it is because they were weakly organised and were not militant. They were left behind in the queue and by the time they came to assert their claim there was a freeze. They are therefore feeling a perfectly understandable sense of injustice.

How can it be right for a Government which has now had a complete change of heart, and far too late, to give way to a single group? The Labour Government would not do it [Interruption.] Of course they would not. In fact, they did not.

Mr. Laurie Pavitt (Willesden, West)

How about in 1966?

Mr. Hooson

The right attitude for the House to adopt is to say that none of us can be proud that the ancillary workers are badly paid, none of us can be proud that in our community there are tens of thousands of empty beds, that there are doctors, nurses and many others working under great strain while everyone concedes that the ancillary workers—

Mr. Giles Radice (Chester-Le-Street) rose

Mr. Hooson

I shall give way presently. Everyone concedes that the ancillary workers have a good case; but the real issue is what will happen in phase 3. One great failure of the Government on the present policy is that they have proved themselves to be such bad personnel managers. The people of this country are not so stupid that they do not understand that inflation is a threat to all of us—

Mr. Radice rose

Mr. Hooson

They would be prepared to accept a policy of freeze if they thought it was fair all round and if they thought that ultimately justice would flow from it. In phase 3 the Government should make their position clear, that they intend the lower paid to be brought up first to a proper national minimum level. I am a firm believer that the Government should make a declaration that in phase 3 there will be a national minimum wage covering the whole country. It is on that basis that negotiations should take place.

Mr. Radice

How does the hon. and learned Gentleman justify his present position in view of the Liberal Party's support for the hospital workers during the Chester-le-Street by-election?

Mr. Russell Kerr (Fulham)

That was another branch of the Liberal Party.

Mr. Hooson

I have always believed, and I said so on the platform in Chester-le-Street, that the hospital workers had a good and reasonable case but that there should be no exceptions made. [Interruption.] What the Government need to do and what the House needs to do, unless the Labour Party has become so irresponsible [Interruption.] that it wants to give way and to see every group get increased wages—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)


Mr. Hooson

The Government must adopt a tough policy, but they should make it clear to the hospital and other lower-paid workers that they will be given top priority in phase 3 and that there will be a basic national minimum wage in this country.

5.37 p.m.

Dr. Anthony Trafford (The Wrekin)

I do not often find it possible to agree with that particular wing of the Liberal Party's expression of view, but I found a great deal in the analysis of hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) with which I agree. It is obvious that in phase 3 the Pay Board will face many difficulties, particularly on the question of bringing up the earnings of the lower paid while holding back the remuneration of the higher paid.

In phase 2 of the policy as put forward by the Government there is a move in this direction which, to say the least, is helpful and beneficial, particularly to the lower paid. I listened with great interest to some of the remarks of the right hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), and I agree that one of the virtues of his being on the back benches in Opposition is that we are getting the most entertaining confessions and revelations. When he urged my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to bend this way, to give a little here, to dodge that, and to stab one of his colleague's policies in the back, which apparently the right hon. Gentleman did and which he confessed today, we can see some explanation why his Government's policy collapsed. This is an object lesson for my right hon. Friend—not that he should try to follow the example of the right hon. Gentleman, but that he should steer clear of that example and pay no attention to the right hon. Gentleman's comments.

It seemed that the Opposition case was that there should be an inquiry now without specifically stating what this inquiry was to do. The right hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. John Silkin) mentioned the question of pay, presumably because he thought the result would be speedy. But there is no evidence to suggest that such an inquiry could be any speedier or that its findings could be implemented any quicker than if it had been handled by the Pay Board, provided that it is dealing with the question of pay.

Had the right hon. Gentleman said— he did not—that the Opposition wanted to go far wider and look into the whole question of pay for those who are working in fields of social importance rather than of economic power, I would agree that that is a fundamental question that will have to be faced sooner or later and for which we shall need to find some solution. It will not be solved by an inquiry into pay. I agree with the comment made in, I believe, The Economist, which said that if there was one economic disaster greater than Wilberforce Mark I it was Wilberforce Mark II. Any inquiry set up under these circumstances would result in a wage claim for all those with whom the hospital ancillary workers are usually equated. It would have the effect that it would concentrate on the pay and it would be sidetracked from the much more fundamental question of how to reward people in some sectors where their pure economic productivity cannot be easily assessed.

The other feature which disturbed me in the debate, and on which I do not intend to go into detail, is what I call the competitive sob stuff. On the one hand we have, apparently, patients dying left, right and centre while on the other hand, workers are starving by the hundreds of thousands. We all know that neither of these statements is true although there may be isolated instances of a certain number of patients suffering. I am not aware of the details of such cases. I do not believe that it is happening on a wide scale. Where there have been difficulties there has been every endeavour to operate emergency services. I do not believe that the hospital ancillary workers are suffering or will suffer, as I heard the other day, from malnutrition. This is a load of rot. We may just fall into the trap of competitive sob stuff.

The trouble is that it devalues the argument because exactly the same argument can be put forward for many other groups of workers—certainly for agricultural workers and possibly with more justification. This type of nonsense is not helpful to hospital ancillary workers or to anyone else.

The thing that saddens me most about this dispute is that I cannot help feeling that the hospital workers are being had for mugs. They are being had for mugs not by my right hon. Friend, not by the hospital authorities or their co-workers in the National Health Service. They are being had for mugs because they are being pushed out, as a poorly organised group, into the front line of a battle and are being used as cats' paws. I feel sad about this dispute.

Further than that, I am distressed to see that this is an action which the Opposition support, as they support every industrial dispute that comes up. There is no need to discuss the dispute on its merits before they come in their serried ranks to say "It is good because it is a dispute and, therefore, we support it." This helps no one and devalues the argument when a dispute of some merit and importance comes before the House. The value of the Opposition's argument about this important dispute is inevitably weakened by the fact that they produce the same comment on every dispute that comes along.

Opposition speakers often will stand up and say this. For this reason I am sad that these workers are being used as cats' paws in what is and must be a futile exercise. They know, the Opposition know and we know that if the counter-inflation policies are to be successful there cannot be a surrender directly or by means of some inflationary inquiry.

5.43 p.m.

Mr. Laurie Pavitt (Willesden, West)

I want during the course of my speech to deal with some of the comments made by the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Dr. Trafford.

First, I want to say how appalled I am by the reaction of the Secretary of State to the reasoned case put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for Dept-ford (Mr. John Silkin). We know that there are about 380 hospitals affected. Where is the Minister's sense of urgency? We know that there are 30,000 empty beds. Where is the Minister's sense of urgency? We know that he is facing a crisis throughout the country, yet we have had no indication from him that the responsibility rests entirely in his lap. He is completely responsible for the whole of the National Health Service.

We had a vague generalisation on economic policies, followed by a little bit of political knockabout dealing with what "we" did or "they" did. What the country needs in these days of difficulty is for the right hon. Gentleman—and no one doubts his ability—to rise to this occasion and give a lead, showing how the Government should cope with this situation.

This debate is about injustice to a hard-pressed section of workers. It is about inflexibility and hypocrisy on the part of the Government. They continually talk about economic policies being carried out to help low-paid workers. They talk generalities until they get to a particular case. Then it is not that particular section of low-paid workers whom they want to help but someone else.

I do not need to go very far for my evidence. I am sure that every hon. Member can put forward the same kind of figures and arguments as I do from my own constituency. In my local newspaper, the Willesden Chronicle, last week there was an advertisement which said: The National Hospital at Maida Vale is looking for a reliable and friendly man for duties in the Front Hall Reception. The basic rate of pay for this position is £20.96 for a 40-hour week. He will be required to work 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. … Age up to 45. This is the kind of figure which my right hon. Friend gave from the Front Bench and it runs throughout the country. My local hospital group is the Central Middlesex Group, which I claim to be one of the finest in the country. I checked up last week and found that of the adult male ancillary workers there, 30 take home less than £20 a week. This makes nonsense of the average figures.

The Secretary of State quotes higher averages but he does not say that the average time worked in my hospital for ancillary workers taking home more than £21.48 is 54 hours, including weekends. There is an injustice to middle-range workers, and that is one of the anomalies that have not been touched upon. Consider the higher-grade workers in central stores, storekeepers and storemen. They receive no overtime and are taking home less than a porter who has done 54 to 60 hours a week.

Where is the Secretary of State's managerial obsession which he is showing with the National Health Service Reorganisation Bill? In one of my hospitals a head porter with managerial responsibility for 60 men, responsible for arranging their duties, for their discipline and the complete organisation of the hospital staff, has a basic pay of £28 a week. What other person managing 60 workers get this rate? What kind of people are we talking about? Again I quote from the Willesden Chronicle. A letter appeared in that paper headed: Thanks to Neasden Hospital. It said: I feel I must write to you about Neasden Hospital (D Ward) so that your readers will really know all about this wonderful hospital and their dedicated staff. My dear wife was a patient there for nearly eleven months and passed away last Thursday… May I through your columns thank all the sisters and nurses (both day and night), both past and present, the kitchen staff and cleaners, etc., all of whom as I say extended every help and courtesy. What a wonderful group of people. I shall never forget them and offer them my heartfelt thanks. That kind of letter could be found in countless local newspapers. Anyone who has been in hospital will have had experience of the devotion of hospital workers of all grades.

These are the people whom the Government seek to make a buffer for their counter-inflation policy. The Undersecretary admits bad luck in timing their pay claim, but whose bad luck was it? When the local government workers got through on the last day before the freeze they received a certain amount of support from their Minister. When the Whitley Council began to discuss ancillary workers it was told by the Secretary of State's Department to hold on. It held on for too long, with the result that, although the local government workers got their increase, the hospital workers did not. It was the Government who prevented an early settlement which would have given more money to the hospital workers.

If we look at the history of Whitley it will be seen that the ancillary workers in 1957 were the first ever to have their Whitley Council agreement broken because of a freeze. It seems, going through the history of all freezes under all Governments since then, that it is those who are serving the community, who have no bargaining power because they do not produce goods and articles, who always get clobbered first and most severely. Contrast the treatment of these workers with that of the doctors. During the General Election, when my Government were trying to hold down inflation, the then Opposition came out in favour of giving increases to consultants with "A" merit awards, and when they got in they did this. It amounted to £60 a week in extra money. This was a rise equal to the take-home pay of three ancillary workers in the Central Middlesex Hospital.

During the 1966 pay freeze my Government gave a special cushion to general practitioners. Doctors who found themselves caught in the squeeze in July did not have to wait until the following August for their award. It was paid to them on 1st October. If it is good enough for the doctors it is good enough for hospital cleaners and porters, for all of those giving service in our hospitals.

It is not good enough to patch this up and refer it to the Pay Board. We have had Report No. 64 on ancillary workers produced by the Prices and Incomes Board. There has also been the Board's report on nurses' pay. We all know that we are running the finest health service in the world through the devotion of people who are still imbued with the Florence Nightingale ideal. We are "short-changing" them in pay and conditions the whole time.

It is the height of nonsense to expect hospital ancillary workers on less than £20 a week to take the brunt of the Government's inflationary problems whilst those with unearned incomes have a tax bonanza and property racketeers become millionaires. It is a travesty of social justice when these devoted workers are pilloried by the Press and television as endangering lives when for a quarter of a century on poverty-stricken wages their care of the sick has been a monument to their humanity.

I ask for an inquiry to do two things. First, there should be an immediate, urgent look at the situation to deal with the interim problem. But, much wider, there should be a complete inquiry of a Royal Commission nature to consider the question of pay and conditions in the hospitals and in the health services, not only for ancillary workers, but for the nurses—who are also underpaid and who have a claim in the pipeline—physiotherapists, radiographers and all those in the professions supplementary to medicine who are working at rates which, after training, are ridiculous compared with those paid elsewhere.

We want not only an immediate inquiry which will give justice to the ancillary workers but a much larger-scale inquiry which will provide a sensible structure in the hospital service for those people who render the service which the sick need. We should have a full and radical overall examination of the system which results in justice for these people in respect not only of pay and conditions but of their functions and the way in which the service should be run, because without them the National Health Service would collapse.

5.51 p.m.

Mr. John Stokes (Oldbury and Halesowen)

I had not intended to take part in the debate, which I felt might do more harm than good, until last night when I saw the following headline in the Evening Standard: Pickets block food to 1,300 Epsom patients". The text reads: Pickets at Longrove Hospital, Epsom, today prevented the delivery of essential food supplies. Ten lorries carrying provisions for patients and staff were turned away by striking members of the Transport and General Workers Union. A spokesman for the South-West Metropolitan Hospital Board said later, 'We have had pickets stop food lorries before, but never on this scale.' The T & GWU workers are in the second day of their strike and members of two other unions are meeting today to decide on whether they should support them. The hospital has between 1,200 and 1,300 mentally ill patients, and staff from its industrial therapy unit have been preparing meals since the strike began. The pickets are only allowing essential medical supplies to enter the hospital gates. What a condemnation that is of some aspects of present-day trade union practice. How far it has drifted from the original ideals either of the trade unions or of the Labour Party when we find that food is forcibly stopped from reaching patients! In other words, politics before the patients.

In my view, that act alone justifies this debate. It not only illustrates the ruthlessness and callousness of some trade union leaders but also, alas, demonstrates how dangerously close this country is to anarchy and mob rule.

I believe that the Secretary of State will have to act very quickly to instruct hospital authorities to make the necessary arrangements for the food to get through. If food is stopped by pickets, I hope that he will ask the Home Secretary to draft immediately sufficient police to the hospitals concerned to immobilise the pickets and allow the free entry of food and other vital supplies, otherwise patients and others will be entitled to ask "Who is supposed to be running this country?" The sooner these illegal pickets—for illegal I am sure they must be—feel the firm hand of the law the better. We endeavoured last Friday to discuss some aspects of picketing, which is crucial, in my view, in the present dispute, but were prevented from doing so by a filibuster by an hon. Member opposite. Now, fortunately, we have the time to raise the matter.

There is a second point which has not been fully brought out. There are tens of thousands of women waiting for a word from the Government to go into the hospitals and give their services freely. They are being stopped by picketing, which is quite monstrous. If those splendid women were allowed to go into the hospitals, they would support those paid workers who are still nobly at work —and the vast majority of them are— and at the same time would shame the remainder into going back to their duties.

We have heard a great deal from the Opposition about justice in wages and salaries. Much of this talk can be dangerous and can lead on to sterile ground. It makes everyone discontented without necessarily supplying a remedy. The word "justice" sometimes means equality —and, alas, equality is impossible in a free society; one can have it only in a totalitarian State—and sometimes it is just another word for envy or greed. I deprecate hon. Members opposite trying to stir up out-of-date, old-fashioned envy and class hatred in this debate. How can they possibly expect the Government to give way and make an exception in this one particular case?

I hope that the Opposition's case will be soundly defeated and that a small minority of workers involved will show some common sense and return to their duties.

5.59 p.m.

Mr. Dick Taverne (Lincoln)

It naturally gives me some pleasure to be back. The circumstances of my return are somewhat different from those in which I made my maiden speech when I was previously elected in a by-election, but in politics, as in nature, it is impossible to be a maiden twice. What I intend to say would not be appropriate to a maiden speech because, I suspect, it may seem controversial to some. I wish to make three brief points. First, I support what has been said by some hon. Members on this side of the House, that the hospital ancillary workers have a good case. Secondly, the Government have themselves to blame to a considerable extent for the situation in which they find themselves; they have not learned from their past mistakes. Thirdly, this strike is profoundly and tragically mistaken and should not be successful.

The first part of the case was eloquently made by the right hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. John Silkin) and the hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt). There is no need for me to repeat it, except to say that insufficient credit for the strength of the case was given by some hon. Members who spoke from the Government back benches. It should be remembered that the leaders of the unions are highly responsible men who have not in the past been driven to militancy, who have been most unfortunately affected by the timing and who have to some extent been affected by the competition in militancy. They deserve sympathy in all except their present action.

My second point concerns the Government's record. They are right to introduce an incomes policy. In present circumstances it is necessary for them to introduce a statutory incomes policy, although even now in several respects it is not supported by the right strategy for social justice. But the Government's delayed conversion to this policy has infinitely worsened the problem.

I do not speak simply with the benefit of hindsight. I made speeches in this House, when I was a Front Bench speaker for the Opposition, at the end of 1970 and in the early part of 1971 in which I urged the Government to adopt an incomes policy and warned them that the postponement of the adoption of an incomes policy would make the problem worse and leave a very heavy price to be paid at the end. Instead, the Government went for the mistaken policy of N—1; they went for confrontation in the public sector only. They should learn their lessons from this.

To be successful, the aim of a statutory incomes policy must be to lessen the differentials which obtain throughout the wage and salary structure. Phase 2 of the present policy is an improvement on the previous model which the Labour Government put forward, because the emphasis is less on percentages and, therefore, to some extent more on redressing the differentials. But the Government must realise that for two-and-a-half years they have set about widening differentials. They have preached creative inequality, and they are now reaping the whirlwind of their past mistakes.

Thirdly, I come to the present strikes. I suggest that those hon. Members who are concerned with a fairer structure for wages must condemn the hospital workers' strike unequivocally. It would be unfortunate if it succeeded because it would remove the hope of a fairer structure. If there were a Labour Government tomorrow—and despite what the right hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) so eloquently said, there would be no question about it—that Labour Government would have to impose in present circumstances a statutory incomes policy every bit as stringent as that which is now being imposed. The Labour Government would be forced to resist this strike and other strikes which are designed to break that policy. That is what the previous Labour Government did, and that is what a future Labour Government would do. There is no doubt about it.

Mr. Joseph Ashton (Bassetlaw)

That is why we lost the election.

Mr. Taverne

I do not take too much notice of the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton). He has a new slogan, which is that the Labour Party should be less honest in politics. What I have said is a fact which all hon. Members on the Opposition side should face and which many of them realise. It is a fact that only some have dared to stats publicly. Others have been more concerned to pretend to agree, when in fact they disagree, in order to preserve a unity which does not exist. Hon. Members should look at what is happening outside the party, and people's reactions to the party. At a time when the Labour Party should be gaining strength, it is not gaining in strength but is losing in strength. Why?—because it has lost a certain credibility, and it has lost it because it is well realised by the public that the party in Opposition is condemning what, if it were in power, it would have to do. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) keeps interrupting. There is no point in his continuing to interrupt. He will not intimidate me as he intimidated certain pensioners in my constituency when he forced them to take down window bills by threatening to evict them from their council houses.

Mr. Skinner

Will the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Taverne) state precisely when that incident took place and the pensioners involved? I never went to a council estate in Lincoln on polling day.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The House cannot re-fight the by-election now.

Mr. Taverne

The activities of the hon. Member for Bolsover in Lincoln were noted.

Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)

Let us address ourselves to the debate.

Mr. Taverne

Quite. If there are interruptions to be made, they should be made in the course of the argument and not from a sitting position.

I have two observations to make about the hospital strike. The first is so obvious that it is surprising that it has not been made more frequently and more clearly. When strikes were such a vital weapon to the trade union movement and to trade unionists in raising their standards of living, they were used as a method of hitting at employers by hitting at the profit made by those employers. That is not the case in the strikes which have been taking place recently. On this occasion the strikes are against the Government. They are not directly affecting the Government but are indirectly affecting the Government through the public. What influence can patients have on the wages of hospital ancillary workers? What influence can children have on the wages of the teachers who are complaining about the London allowance? What effect can passengers have on the wages of the engine drivers who are inconveniencing them?

The strike weapon has changed. The only weapon which the public have is their vote. If the Labour Party is not careful the public will use that vote at elections in a manner that is not entirely favourable to the Labour Party.

The people who are challenging Government policy, the low paid, are low paid because they have often refrained from using the bargaining power that they might have had in the past. In the past there has been a free-for-all in wage bargaining. Those who felt able to use their bargaining power used it, and a free-for-all could only increase differentials. A free-for-all leads to the situation where the low paid are low paid.

If the strike were to succeed, if the Government were to give in, if the incomes policy to which at last belatedly they have become converted were now to be abandoned, the people who would suffer would be the low-paid workers. In the long run they are mistaken to challenge this policy. If we want a fairer wage structure, radical policies and greater social justice, the beginning must be some form of incomes policy, and the Government's income policy is the only one there is at the moment.

6.8 p.m.

Mr. Robert Boscawen (Wells)

It is not normal to refer to the return of an hon. Member to the House, but it is not out of place for me to say that the presence of the hon. and learned Member for Lincoln (Mr. Taverne) has brought a breath of fresh air to democracy. This has been said of his return not only by my hon. Friends, but much more widely throughout the country and the world. To do what he did needed courage and intellectual integrity. He has shown equal courage and intellectual integrity in telling the Opposition that they should condemn this strike because it is not in the interests of low-paid workers or hospital ancillary workers.

Many tributes have been paid to the various branches of medicine—doctors, nurses and voluntary workers—as to how they have managed to come to terms with the strike and to keep the hospitals going. It is not my intention to add to those tributes, but I wish to pay an equal tribute to the hospital ancillary workers whose sense of responsibility and dedication to their patients has meant that they put patients before themselves and are staying at work in great numbers. In the West Country very few hospital ancillary workers have left their posts, and that certainly applies to my constituency. They are working in hospitals many of which are antique, nineteenth-century buildings, where the conditions are old-fashioned and perhaps even unpleasant. I do not believe that the argument that the Government are standing firm will drive hospital workers away to other work. Most of them have a dedication to their work and want to continue it, because they want to help the sick, the elderly and the maimed.

No one will deny that hospital workers were disappointed by not getting their rise last autumn, and, indeed, that they did not receive their rise at the same time as did local government workers. Their work is sometimes unpleasant, it involves long hours and it means that they are often called out in emergencies, and so on. Nobody should under-estimate the need for a high state of morals and cheerfulness among these workers. It is extremely important that they, together with doctors and nurses and all those who care for patients should keep up such a high state of morale and cheerfulness. Nobody will deny that they have a right to protest. They have made their protest, and it has not fallen on deaf ears. People all over the country realise that those workers are badly paid, and would like to see them paid more. But the logic of the situation today is that the free collective bargaining system of the past 20 years has not helped them at all. It has kept them at the bottom of the ladder and in a position in which they are finding it difficult to make ends meet.

This has been the result of the system that has operated for 20 years. These people now want to see a change, they want a new policy brought in to give them more of a chance, and a better deal. The only logical conclusion must be that they want to see the Government stand firm in their battle against inflation. The Government have not always stood firm in that battle, but they are certainly doing so now.

In many aspects of life and work it is often said that on occasion one must be cruel to be kind. One certainly has to be firm to be fair in the long run. I believe that the fact that the Government are being firm in the long run will be seen to be fair. There may be anomalies in the short term, but in the long term such a policy will be seen to be fair to the low-paid workers and, in particular, to the hospital ancillary workers. They have more to gain than anyone in the success of such a policy. The message which I should like to give to hospital ancillary workers is that they should go back to work and should see that a proper case is put to the Pay Board. There has been a call for a full inquiry into the situation of nurses and lower-paid hospital and health service workers but the Pay Board is to consider the situation in relation to the rates of pay in other branches of activity. We should be thinking about such a wide inquiry rather than an immediate inquiry into their particular case—an inquiry which might give these workers a rise and put them for a short time farther up the ladder, only to lose their position again later. Their case must be looked at by the Pay Board in the whole context of the wage structure in the country. Logic points to the fact that those workers should now take the view, "We have made our protest, we shall go back to work and put our case to the Pay Board. We shall expect the board to produce a fair result and we hope that the Government will produce a fair answer to the report when the time comes."

6.16 p.m.

Dr. M. S. Miller (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)

I do not want to take up time by referring to the speeches made by the hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Boscawen) and the hon. and learned Member for Lincoln (Mr. Taverne)—except to say that the hon. and learned Member for Lincoln did not put before the House any particularly novel ideas. He is being less than genuine in his own intentions in this respect if he thinks that merely by reiterating half-digested thoughts, he will make a tremendous impression on Opposition Members.

I would take more kindly to Conservative Members who smugly suggest that the patient comes first if they did not demand that in so doing the ancillary workers in the health service should be subjected to perpetual exploitation. It comes ill for some people to say that the captains of industry need incentives and are not expected to put the country first, while the man earning less than £18 per week is expected to put the patient first.

We are at present in the throes of a strike or a series of stoppages of various kinds by people who, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) said, are not usually militant or given to exaggerated behaviour but who take seriously their obligations and duties to their patients. Those workers cannot go on being exploited by the nation. They estimate that even to reach their pay level of 1970, when their standards were already poor and depressed, they would now need an increase of £4 in their earnings.

I should like to give the House some idea of the gigantic problem arising from the way in which hospital ancillary workers are being exploited. There are about 2,760 hospitals in the country, most of them possessing between 50 and 500 beds. The total number of hospital beds is well over 500,000. If we bear in mind that for most people the average stay in hospital is from 14 to 21 days, we get some idea of the numbers of people who go into hospital annually. When we add to this total the number of outpatient attendances for last year—about 43 million—we can see the responsibility which falls upon the ancillary hospital workers. One authority recently said of these workers: They are the backroom boys of the hospital services. They are the supporting cast without whom the front-line team could not operate. The total number of ancillary workers in the National Health Service is 270,000. The number of hospital doctors is around 28,000 and family doctors amount to about 25,000. We see, therefore, that the total medical strength in the National Health Service is 53,000. Hospital mid-wives number about 20,000, and hospital nurses about 330,000. The point is that of the total of 800,000 employees in the National Health Service about one-third are the ancillary staffs.

The composition of the ancillary staffs is also interesting. About 28,000 are employed on works and maintenance, about 16,000 doing laundry work, about 6,000 attending to farms, gardens and ground maintenance, about 45,000 in catering, another 20,000 are ward orderlies, about 125,000 do domestic duties—that number includes porters—and about 30,000 do other jobs. They make up a total of 270,000.

A number of wage figures have been bandied around. However, when one considers wages it is easy to make calculations from the Department's own Summary of Health and Personal Social Services statistics. I have calculated that the average earnings—not wages—of hospital ancillary workers last year was less than £25 a week. The right hon. Member for Chislehurst (Dame Patricia Hornsby-Smith) said that to give the hospital workers the increase that they need would cost the health service £100 million. Last year the nation spent almost £2,400 million on the National Health Service, about 50 per cent. of which was spent on the hospital service. It is interesting to note that the medical and dental professions—and there are only about 900 dentists in the hospital service —took £130 million, whereas the 270,000 ancillary workers got £350 million. In other words, 28,000 doctors shared £130 million and 270,000 ancillary workers, almost 10 times as many, shared £350 million.

Four out of every five ancillary workers are on a basic wage rate of less than £20 for a 40-hour week, and many, as the Secretary of State himself admitted, are on the minimum rate of £17.68 for a man and £15.58 for a woman.

There is another problem. Many of these ancillary workers come from overseas. Their work permits often tie them to specific hospitals. Thus hospital administrations have enormous power over them because if they leave the hospital service for any reason they may also lose their rights to remain in this country.

Hospital ancillary workers are on the lowest rung of the hospital hierarchy. They provide the basic services which make the treatment of all patients possible. Without them it would not be possible for all the others to do their jobs. It seems to us that they have a just case. My right hon. and hon. Friends and I feel that it is the duty of the Secretary of State in this respect to face up to his responsibilities to the National Health Service and to the public.

The Secretary of State must not be inflexible. He tends to be too rigid in his attitude. I was disappointed with much of his speech today. It was unworthy of the usual calmness, perspicacity and dedication to the job which, in his own way, he accomplishes very ably. He will eventually have to negotiate. Let him do it now.

6.25 p.m.

Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

There cannot be one person who honestly believes that the pay of ancillary workers in our hospitals is either fair of adequate. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will agree with that. Most people will also agree that in order to do our hospital ancillary workers justice their case must be examined fully by an impartial body.

My constituency is what might be termed a hospital centre. I have many hundreds of devoted hospital workers among my constituents. I know from my many visits to hospitals how hard they work and how disagreeable many of their tasks are. I am glad to tell the House that today every hospital in the group is working normally and that at all times they have kept essential services going, even when there was a partial stoppage. Despite this, however, there are 400 beds fewer occupied than normal. Inevitably, this will have a serious effect on the health of people up and down the area.

It was because of the concern of ancillary workers for their patients that on Friday of last week the Lancaster and District Hospital Ancillary Workers' Strike Committee met and adopted the following resolution: This Committee recommends the complete return to normal working in consideration of patients' needs and calls upon the Government to implement their promise to improve the wages of low paid workers. The Committee request that a fair offer be given by the Government by 6th April 1973, otherwise further industrial action will be considered. The final paragraph of the committee's letter to me reads: You are asked to give your support to the Committee's request by pressing the Government to consider the Hospital Ancillary Workers' case on its merits and to make an improved pay offer to this group of low paid workers. I do that gladly. I appeal to my right hon. Friend to consider this case on its merits. I believe that the ancillary workers have an immensely powerful case. But I do not believe that it can be considered in isolation from the general fight against inflation. It is vital that inflation should be beaten, especially in the interests of the lower paid. If the Government were to make any exceptions this battle, which is crucial to our national survival, would be lost.

By a curious irony I received by the same post another letter from a civil servant saying that the incomes policy was a bitter pill for him to swallow and that he and others like him could swallow it only if it applied to all equally. Again by the same post I received a similar comment from a gas worker. Not long ago I received similar comments from farm workers.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Wells (Mr. Boscawen) said, it is necessary to be firm to be fair. In the interests of themselves and their families the ancillary workers would be wise, however unwilling to accept the £2 increase which became available from last week and which they are now denying themselves and their families. I believe, too, that they should then put their immensely strong case to the Pay Board, If they do that, I am sure that they will get the justice which they so richly deserve, and I promise that I will back them all the way.

6.29 p.m.

Mr. Roland Moyle (Lewisham, North)

Time is getting short and I know that a number of hon. Members still wish to speak. For that reason I shall not comment on the speech of the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman).

I want first to make it clear to the House that I am a member of the National Union of Public Employees, which is one of the unions which have organised the strike of hospital ancillary workers.

My second comment is for the ears of the Secretary of State. Since the right hon. Gentleman spoke I have had a few minutes in which to reflect upon his speech. In my view it would be a good idea for both the Secretary of State and this House to pretend that his final remarks were never made, because they denigrated his office and made no contribution to a settlement of the dispute.

I make one exception. When I intervened and referred to the Prices and Incomes Board's recommendation that there should be a work study and an increase in bonuses, the right hon. Gentleman very fairly said that not a great number of bonuses had been introduced in the National Health Service to increase earnings. I readily agree with that.

The board's idea that there should be an extensive work study in the National Health Service to improve the earnings of ancillary workers was, on the surface, a first-class idea. It was welcomed by my union at the time. A great deal of work was put into the idea. However, it failed because the board placed upon the management structure of the health service an operation which it was almost incapable of performing with any degree of efficiency. That is the trouble with the growing practice of more and more disputes being referred to outside arbitration bodies instead of the parties to disputes being encouraged to get round a table and argue matters out. Parties to disputes—both unions and managements—know the conditions of their industry. It should be regarded as an exception rather than the normal practice for outside bodies to be brought in, as seems to be the case with the present Government.

If the Secretary of State introduced a basic and general review of the National Health Service and took advantage of the idea which the board put forward in 1967, there is a chance that the solution of the long-term problem of the National Health Service—namely, the grossly low pay of the ancillary workers, would be found. But that is not the entire problem with which the industry is faced. Time is very precious for these people. They cannot afford to wait weeks or months for the Pay Board to look at their case and to come to a decision. They cannot afford to wait until the autumn, the introduction of phase 3, and the gearing-up of a Royal Commission to consider their case. With the cost of living continuing to rise and with so many aspects of the cost of living being outside the Government's control, time is becoming even more precious for these workers. Only recently we learned that the index of import prices had risen by 3 per cent. during the course of a month. That is totally outside the control of the Government.

That is why we are pressing for something to be done now, and to be done quickly. One basic statistic which has not been quoted so far is that the ancillary workers have received the lowest offer of any group in the past few months since the Government's prices and incomes policy was introduced. That is important, when we remember that it is the Government's declared policy to help the low-paid worker. Their offer compares extremely unfavourably with the general position of industry.

The average rise of weekly wage rates since December 1971, when the ancillary workers had their last increase, has been 16 per cent. The National Health Service offer, which is there for the taking by the ancillary workers, ranges from 7½ per cent. for some workers to 11 per cent. for others. The offer barely meets the rise in the cost of living.

The ancillary workers are falling behind workers in other industries as a result of the Government's policy. Far from the Government helping the low-paid workers, they are actively conniving to make their position worse. It is no use talking about what will happen in the long term. Lord Keynes, who had a considerably greater amount of room for financial manoeuvre than is available at present, said that in the long run we shall all be dead. In the short run the financial and economic pressures on the health service workers will be tough.

Hon. Members from both sides of the House have referred to the way in which the medical professions are continuing to operate the health service under trying circumstances. I agree with that. However, there is another aspect to the attitude of the medical profession and other professions towards the industrial action which is taking place. Substantial support is being actively expressed for the ancillary workers throughout the country by doctors, dentists, nurses, physiotherapists and many of the other professions related to the hospital service in the National Health Service. That is something which the Government must take into account.

There has already been a demand by the British Medical Association for an inquiry into the dispute. It is not just a case of the BMA pushing itself forward; it responded to the overwhelming demand of its membership in the hospital service throughout the country.

One depressing fact about the present dispute is that since the creation of the NHS, 25 years ago, the ancillary workers in the health service have behaved exactly as the Conservative Party has always urged working people to behave. They have been responsible and restrained for 25 years.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

Only speak when you are spoken to.

Mr. Moyle

They have used the negotiating machinery which has been set up in the industry for the resolution of every dispute which has arisen in the National Health Service since it was created. They have relied totally on the force of argument to put forward their views on how they should be paid and what should be their terms and conditions of service. They have never had national industrial action during the existence of the NHS.

I have often heard right hon. and hon. Members on the Government benches castigate militants, Communists, Trotsky-ists and all sorts of odd people for creating industrial unrest. However the ancillary workers have behaved with total responsibility and a total absence of militant action in pushing their claims. During the past few weeks I have urged that that sort of action should command substantial recognition. The alternative is that a premium is placed upon militancy in our industrial life. I am now in the position of having to tell the ancillary workers that their attitude over the past 25 years counts for nothing, and that they will get no recognition from the Government. If the Secretary of State can produce some facts to contravene the thesis which I put forward I am willing for him to intervene and put them to the House. I am sure that he will not be able to find any such facts.

The Government are being inflexible. We have been told repeatedly from the Government Dispatch Box and from supporters of the Government that no exception can be made. Exceptions have already been made under the Government's policy. The gas workers have had a pay increase as a result of industrial action which was pursued under the Government's prices and incomes policy. The gas workers' employers are putting more money into their pension fund and the employees are making a smaller contribution to the fund. In addition, they have been given an extra week's holiday. The gas workers have somewhat more industrial muscle than the ancillary workers in the National Health Service, and they are better paid than the ancillary workers.

It is essential that the public should believe that a prices and incomes policy is based on fairness and justice. A position could arise in which members of the public consider the gas dispute and wonder whether the resolution of problems under the Government's prices and incomes policy is based not on justice but on how much industrial muscle can be developed.

There is no need for the Government to worry that if they give more pay to the ancillary workers in the National Health Service other people will quote that increase in other industrial disputes, because no one else wants to know about the rates that ancillary workers get. They are far below those of any other group of workers, except, perhaps, the agricultural workers, so they are not likely to be quoted as a good case in any other industrial dispute. Therefore, if the Government recognise the justice of the ancillary workers' case, as I am sure they do, they must take action swiftly, and outside their precious Price Commission and Pay Board, in order to solve the dispute.

6.41 p.m.

Mr. Evelyn King (Dorset, South)

In the few words I have to say I shall not be other than sympathetic to the ancillary workers. It has pleased me that in the last four speeches, at least, everyone has recognised the justice of their case. I have been in hospital long enough— although not in recent years—to be grateful for the service I have always had, and I understand the immense benefit and value of the work done by the ancillary workers. Whatever else I may say, that is the first thing I want to make clear.

Having said that, I must also express a point of view which has not been expressed sufficiently in the House by those concerned. Certain professions accept obligations which other professions are not expected to accept. For example, the Armed Forces do not go on strike. One enters them and finds advantages and drawbacks. I take the view that if the profession one chooses is either to teach children or to be responsible for the sick, one of the drawbacks one must accept is that those two professions, perhaps more than any other two, impose upon one an obligation not to withdraw one's labour. That is a point of view which should be expressed in this House.

But the corollary is that a greater responsibility rests on the employers of such people not to place them in a position in which they might be led into the temptation to withdraw their labour. Irrespective of which party is in office— I accept that this applies to both Governments—for far too long these ancillary workers have been underpaid. That is where the true blame lies.

Perhaps these are generalities. I turn to the present position, and this must bring me into the general philosophy of the price and wages freeze. I do not believe that a freeze is workable. There is nothing individual in saying that. It is the view of most members of the Conservative Party, on any long view. But one has to take both a long and a short view.

I sometimes regret as a matter of psychology, the use by the Government of the word "fair". Again and again they have said, "We mean to be fair". The truth is—and it is better to say so at the beginning—that when we seek to deal with wage rises in a community of 60 million people, when so many groups are in different stages of claims, while so many others are not at the moment claiming anything, there is no earthly chance of being fair. We are not going to be fair, and no price or wage freeze ever has been fair.

But that is not really the argument. Unfortunately, politics is not always the promoting of good. All too often it is a choice of ills—certainly this one is. It is not that the wage freeze is fair; it is that not to have had it would have been even more unfair.

What we must say to people who are unhappy, as these ancillary workers are, is that the evil which would have come about had we not taken this course would have been even worse. In other words, the effect of inflation on the lower paid, the elderly and the pensioners is a worse ill than a total stop for a few months, however unjust that may seem to be to some workers. I am not blaming anyone in this context, but we are in such a position that a full stop had to take place, and there could be no exceptions. It is unfair, but anything else would be even more unfair.

I pay my tribute to those who work in the hospital ancillary services, particularly those in my constituency, who have in most cases maintained their labour. I understand the sacrifices they make and I think that the whole House is sympathetic to them.

6.45 p.m.

Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)

The hon. Member for The Wrekin (Dr. Trafford) is a member of the medical profession, yet he delivered himself of a number of strictures on those who have put forward the case for the hospital ancillary workers. I regret that he is not now present. As this is a very short debate, one might have expected him to remain in the Chamber after he had made his speech. I shall have to make my comments in his absence.

The hon. Gentleman's strictures contrasted very badly with the comments of the consultant surgeon who appeared on a television programme last Sunday morning. This gentleman, who is a very eminent member of his profession, said, "I feel deeply ashamed, as a member of the profession, that for so many years I have done so little to see that the pay of these ancillary workers is brought up to a decent level." His words earned him the respect of millions of viewers, I am sure.

The Secretary of State said that he would speak as a reporter. I can tell him that he would not last two days in any decent newspaper organisation. He started by trying to bias the debate and put the blame, by implication, on the TUC. He made a complete mis-statement of the facts when he said that, regrettably, the tripartite negotiations last year between the Government, the CBI and the TUC had failed because of the refusal of the TUC to co-operate. He said that this was how all the trouble had arisen.

The facts are worth putting on record again. Half way through the negotiations the negotiating team of the TUC General Council asked the Prime Minister: "Can you give us an assurance that, in the inevitable price rises on essential foods which will come in 1973, you will take stringent measures of control to see that they do not fall upon the shoulders of working people, pensioners and others?" The Prime Minister said that he could give no such assurance, knowing full well that not only would there be an appreciation of prices to the Common Market level but that special additional reasons would be at work to bring about further increases in most food prices— the sort of prices which affect, above all, people like the hospital ancillary workers —which would not be under any effective control when 1973 arrived. That is exactly what happened. The Secretary of State now has the face to lecture people earning between £20 and £25 a week.

There are two other relevant points which we ought to make on behalf of the ancillary workers, despite the rather shoddy speech of the right hon. Member for Chislehurst (Dame Patricia Hornsby-Smith). In the television programme to which I referred, broadcast last Sunday morning, one of the ladies representing the ancillary workers was interviewed at some length. She described how she and two of her colleagues, shop stewards of a group of ancillary workers, every morning went from ward to ward in order to make sure that no patient was in any difficulty that required the emergency application of help by ancillary workers.

What I am saying will be within the recollection of hon. Members who saw the programme. No decent person listening to and viewing this programme could be other than profoundly moved by the statement made by that representative of some of the ancillary workers. There was no trace of that in the speech by the right hon. Member for Chislehurst. Indeed, there was no trace of it—which is far more serious—in the speech by the Secretary of State, who is responsible for these people and is their representative and ought to be their spokesman in the Cabinet.

This is one of the most important debates that the House has held since the General Election. Hon. Members on both sides have said, "We are appalled to find that for these very important jobs people are getting such low wages." But before the ancillary workers took any action, how many people were saying that in this House and outside? Moderates are being turned into militants because they know that unless they take some action nobody will listen to them.

The Government have a bounden duty to say that they will not be confined to the straitjacket of this legislation. We have built up conciliation machinery and public inquiries of many different kinds. The safeguard of a public inquiry is that it allows an independent court to point in the direction which is neither what the Government want nor what the unions want, but enables them to get round the table to find some agreement. We have been priding ourselves on this machinery. The Government's refusal to respond to the BMA's request for an immediate public inquiry is an abdication of their duty in the face of a serious situation. They are failing their country. It is our duty to drive the lesson home to all concerned.

6.52 p.m.

Dr. John A. Cunningham (Whitehaven)

One of the problems facing Parliament is that politicians are seen by the public as being short-sighted and somewhat absent-minded.

My hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson) asked: how many people have been talking about the pay and conditions of hospital ancillary workers, except in the last few weeks? Certainly the trade unions have been doing so. I speak as a member of one of the unions involved—the General and Municipal Workers' Union.

One point which has been made from the Government benches today is that if only the ancillary workers will be patient, moderate, and wait a little while all will be sweetness and light, and at the end of the day they will move up the wages league table. The only problem which Government supporters face in advancing this view is that for 25 years that very point has been made to ancillary workers and, unfortunately, they are still at the foot of the wages league table.

It is incredibly difficult to give any real credibility to the argument advanced for the Government's phase 3, because, throughout wage freezes and pay pauses, ancillary workers have been told that the reasons for such wage freezes, pay pauses or prices and incomes policies have been to help lower-paid workers. We had this in the 1950s, in the early 1960s and in the period of the last Labour Government, and we are having it again now. The facts are that in the ancillary workers' view they do not make a jot of difference.

What is so tragic about the situation, in view of the pleas for moderate behaviour and statements about militancy and politically motivated people, is that the ancillary workers have nowhere else to go. This is the lesson to be drawn from the present dispute. Everything else has been tried by the ancillary workers' unions. Moderation and negotiations through the machinery have been tried, and no progress has been made.

In this situation it is astonishing to hear the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Mr. Evelyn King) talk about fairness. The biggest single criticism of the Government is that in the face of their grossly unfair policies they are calling on trade unionists to be fair and moderate.

I take one further point from the short intervention by the hon. Member for Dorset, South. He said that it is not possible to be fair. I contradict that suggestion. The only chance we have of being fair to people is through Government intervention in some kind of public sector wages policy. If we, as a community, are to be fair, it is important in the context not only of ancillary workers but of local authority and other low-paid workers, to talk about fairness in the Chamber of the House of Commons. As a community we must decide to pay these people what we believe they are entitled to receive as members of society doing difficult, unpleasant and, in some cases, unwanted jobs.

The Secretary of State said that the Government would not be moved and that there could be no inquiry. It is an indictment of the Government's attitude and thinking for the right hon. Gentleman to tell us this today, given the crisis situation in the National Health Service. The tragedy is that the quality of service, the morale in the health service, and the numbers of people who want to work in it will be seriously damaged as a result of this dispute which the Government have it in their power to resolve.

6.56 p.m.

Mr. Robert Adley (Bristol, North-East)

A number of hon. Gentlemen opposite, referring to what they describe as the new militancy and militants, have said that hospital workers are amongst those who have not previously been militant. One cannot help but ask why. Have their extreme conditions brought about this situation? Is it the example which they are being set by many other people?

Hon. Gentlemen opposite have suggested that low-paid workers are suffering because of the overt militancy of higher-paid workers in powerful positions. I suggest that if they want to help cure inflation their duty is to bring to bear whatever pressure they can to stop people who are abusing the economy by the use of naked power.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

Who are they?

Mr. Adley

For months the TUC has been telling the Government how to run the country and the economy. It is about time somebody suggested to the TUC that if it is to look after the interests of workpeople, and if the trade unions exist to look after the working conditions of those whom they seek to represent, then, in this day and age of enlightenment, it should take the lead in making sure that the lower paid get the biggest chunk of pay increases.

If the voluntary policy negotiated by the TUC, the CBI and the Government had been accepted, I believe that we would have had the foundations for the kind of society to which the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Dr. John A. Cunningham) referred. Unfortunately, the TUC rejected any voluntary policy, not because the non-militant majority did not want to go along with it, but because, as we all know, at the moment the voice of militancy is swaying the TUC, and those who are able and willing to cooperate with the Government are frightened to do so.

Dr. John A. Cunningham

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Adley

No. I want to make a short speech.

The Labour Party, both in this House and in the country, has been seeking a body of workers whom it can use as a battering ram with which to try to beat the Government's counter-inflation policy. Crocodile tears have been shed this afternoon. The only way in which low-paid workers can get a fair deal is by bringing inflation under control. I do not believe that anything the Government do which brings about a breach in the counter-inflation policy can possibly be in the interests of low-paid workers.

7.0 p.m.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield (Nuneaton)

If the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Adley) is suggesting that the Government's whole inflationary strategy will come tumbling down if mortuary assistants get more than £19 a week, all I can say is that the Government do not have much of an incomes policy strategy. The hon. Gentleman is saying that the whole future of this Government, and the whole future of their policies, depends on hospital ancillary workers not getting more than they are getting now. If the hon. Gentleman thinks that he can live on those wages, if he thinks he knows what it is like to live on those wages, if he thinks he knows the aspirations of and the cost of living for people on those wages, he ought to get to his constituency more often and find out the facts.

The people who have been holding the health service and the country to ransom recently are the BMA and the doctors, who have threatened mass resignations. It does not do consultants in the Birmingham area any good when they sign petitions saying that waiting lists are getting longer. I was a member of the Birmingham Regional Hospital Board for two-and-a-half years. When I was on that board the waiting lists got longer and longer—[Laughter.] I honestly do not think that mortuary assistants earning £19 a week are very funny. The waiting lists lengthened because the consultants who are criticising hospital ancillary workers were busy feathering their nests through private practice.

The consultants who have suddenly developed a new-found concern about waiting lists are the biggest bunch of hypocrites under the sun. They are the people who, year after year, have been getting the backhanders—getting the money out of their merit awards. Whatever the circumstances of the country, and whatever the circumstances of hospital ancillary workers, the consultants will always be pushing for an increase in their fees and in their private practice. If anybody does damage to the hospital service and increases hospital waiting lists it is the consultants, because of the way in which they constantly push for more private practice. In a hospital in the Midlands area, so concerned were some of the consultants that they were even sending down barrels of beer to the porters to prevent them from going on strike.

Can a hospital ancillary worker have any confidence in submitting his case to the Pay Board, the chairman of which is to receive more in tax concessions under the Government's Budget than the typical hospital ancillary worker is paid in a week? Can a hospital ancillary worker have much confidence in the Government when he knows that consultants working in other parts of the hospital in private practice can make in a week more than 10 times what he will get, even with the Government's offer?

If hon. Gentlemen opposite think that hospital workers going on strike and becoming involved in industrial disputes do not have any qualms of conscience, let me assure them that they do. They are concerned about their patients. They are concerned about the lives of people in hospital. But they know damned well that one does not get anything out of this Government by playing the rules. They know that if they want to get anything out of this Secretary of State they have to fight—and fight I hope they will.

7.5 p.m.

Sir K. Joseph

With the permission of the House, I should like to make a few remarks after what has been a deeply-felt debate.

A number of hon. Gentlemen opposite have made very concerned and sincere speeches about the pay of ancillary workers, but I have to remind the House that the second best increase ever offered to them is now on the table, and also that the best increase since the war was made under this Government. Secondly, I have to remind the House that the Pay Board is available for the ancillary workers, and they can take their deeply-felt case to it.

There has been an equal number of concerned speeches by my hon. Friends. Perhaps I may tell my hon. Friend the Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Stokes) that during the debate I have received news from the hospital secretary at Long Grove, the hospital to which he referred, that a return to work tomorrow is almost certain.

I assure my hon. Friends who want the Government not to restrain volunteers that it is in the interests of the National Health Service to allow those ancillary workers who are at work—and they are the majority—to go on working, calling in volunteers only where the unions, after their best efforts, fail to keep the essential services going.

Two big issues have arisen during this debate. The first is why these normally moderate unions are striking. The second is whether they should be made a special case. The right hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) teased me very effectively. I must say to him that maybe we have learned from our experiences. It may be that the repercussions of Labour years and the squeezed standard of living left the ferment which we inherited. It may be that the demonstrations of militancy over the years, under both Labour and Tory Governments, have led to what my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Dr. Trafford) called competitive militancy.

That is why, after seeking a voluntary agreement with the unions, the Government have tried to construct a policy for restraining the higher paid to increases not far beyond productivity growth, while giving differentially better increases to the low paid and providing, through the Pay Board, the mechanism for considering anomalies in relation to pay as a whole.

The right hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. John Silkin) has a heavy task in winding up the debate. He seeks a special inquiry, and, therefore, special treatment, for the hospital ancillary workers who are among the lower paid. Does he not know that special treatment is what many other unions, some of them not low paid, are seeking? Does he not know that once conceded it would be the much higher-paid battalions who would ride on the backs of the hospital ancillary workers to a free-for-all? The right hon. Gentlman is virtually arguing for a return to a free-for-all, nominally in the interests of the lower paid, but a free-for-all cannot help the lower paid. The hon. and learned Member for Lincoln (Mr. Taverne) said so in a short, very human, but magisterial speech.

The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) was right in stressing that hospital ancillary workers are not the only lower paid. My hon. Friends were right in saying that for the first time the lower paid are to be helped by this policy. The Pay Board offers the first hope of a beginning to apply pay policy more sensitively to the needs of the lower paid.

I hope that the right hon. Member for Deptford will not focus only on low pay. There is £2 extra a week available at once to improve that. Let the right hon. Gentleman recognise that our policy is the only one that can abate inflation while being fairer than ever before to the lower paid. Let the right hon. Gentleman not tell us just about living on the lowest pay, because pay was lower still when the Labour Government were in office. The issue here is how to help the low paid without wrecking the efficiency of the country. Plausible appeals for special treatment which ignore the familiar reprecussions on the cost of living will not do. A free-for-all does not help the low paid. How can the right hon. Gentleman possibly seek a free-for-all nominally in the interests of those whom it hurts most— the lower paid?

7.10 p.m.

Mr. John Silkin

I have only a very few minutes left before this debate closes. I expressed my regret when I opened the debate at having raised this subject, but said that I regarded it as important. I express no regret at all after having listened to the debate for nearly three hours—no regret because it clearly is an important, urgent, crisis question that needed to be discussed in this House. It had not been discussed before, and it looked as though it was not likely to be discussed at all.

While we are considering a question of this sort, let us see how much agreement there was in the House on at any rate one issue. With the exception of the right hon. Member for Chislehurst (Dame Patricia Hornsby-Smith) and, I think, one other hon. Member, every speaker expressed the feeling that the ancillary hospital workers were being unjustly treated. This view was expressed on both sides.

Where we differed was on one point, and one point only, and that is the point that the Secretary of State was making just now. Where we differed was on the question whether there should be exceptional treatment for an exceptional group of workers working in exceptional circumstances, when those workers have been deserted by the Government who should have been succouring them, whose duty it was to assist them and whose Secretary of State is pledged to run the National Health Service.

There would have been no need for this if, in February 1972, when he received the report from the Department of Employment, the right hon. Gentleman had done anything about it. He had the time, to do it, but he did nothing at all. He himself admits that he knew the contents of that report, a report that said that the whole National Health Service was operated on the good will of low-paid people.

We have heard some examples today of how much they are paid. We know what the situation is. It is no good his coming to us now and saying "We, the Government, have to face inflation" —and inflation, incidentally, of their making, not of ours—[An HON. MENIBER: "Rubbish."]—true—"We have to face inflation, and therefore, we make the rules and you must abide by them." That is not the view of the workers in the industry, workers who have never struck before.

It is not the view of the BMA. The BMA could very well have taken the view that the hospital workers should get back to work as soon as possible. What it said was "Yes, but let them have an independent inquiry, because this is vital." The Secretary of the BMA himself said that in a just society the ancillary workers would have been given a fair wage. So we have to accept what the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Mr. Evelyn King) said, that we do not have a just society.

I had hoped that the Secretary of State, instead of delivering, as I am afraid he did—he is no doubt under a considerable nervous strain—a five-minute party political piece earlier today—[An HON. MEMBER: "Cheap."] Not at all cheap. The

hon. Member should have heard the speech. We had hoped that when the Secretary of State came here he would have come with some constructive views to give us. He gave us none. He gave us the old parrot cry. He admitted that the men were justified in their claim: he did nothing about it.

For that reason, I ask my hon. Friends to show their disapproval of the Secretary of State, of his colleagues and of their whole attitude in the Division Lobby.

Question put That this House do now adjourn: —

The House divided: Ayes 259, Noes 295.

Division No. 89.] AYES [7.14 p.m.
Abse, Leo Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Janner, Greville
Allaun, Frank (Sallord, E.) Doig, Peter Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Dormand, J. D. Jeger, Mrs. Lena
Armstrong, Ernest Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Ashley, Jack Douglas-Mann, Bruce Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)
Ashton, Joe Driberg, Tom John, Brynmor
Atkinson, Norman Duffy, A. E. P. Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Bagier Gordon A.T. Dunnett, Jack Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)
Barnes Michael Esdie. Alex Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Edelman, Maurice Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Edwards, Robert (Bilsfon) Jones, Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn (W.Ham.S.)
Baxter William Edwards, William (Merioneth) Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Ellis, Tom Jones T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) English, Michael JUdd, Frank
Bidwell, Sydney Evens, Fred Kaufman, Gerald
Bshop, E.S. Ewing, Harry Kelley, Richard
Blenkinsop, Arthur Faulds, Andrew Kerr,Russell
Boardman. H. (Leigh) Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E. Kinnock, Neil
Booth, Albert Flsher,Mrs.Doris(Bham,Ladywood) Lambie, David
Bottomely, Rt. HN. Arthur Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lamborn, Harry
Laymond James
Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland) Foot, Michael Latham, Arthur
Bradley, Tom Frod, Ben Lawson, George
Broughton, Sir Alfred Forrester, John Leadbitter, Ted
Brown, Robert C. (Nc'lle-u-Tyne,W.) Fraser, John (Norwood) Lee. Rt. Hn. Frederick
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Freeson, Reginald Leonard, Dick
Brown, Ronald(Shoreditch & F'bury) Galpern, Sir Myer Lestor, Miss Joan
Buchan, Norman Garrett, W. E. Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Gilbert, Dr. john Lipton, Marcus
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) Lomas, Kenneth
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Golding, John Loughlin, Charles
Cant, R.B. Gourlay, Harry Lyon, Alexander W. (York)
Carmichael, Nell Grant George (Morpeth) Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)
Carter, Ray (Birmingham, Northfield) Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) Mabon Dr J Dickson
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) McBride Neil
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Griffiths, Will (Exchange) McCartney Huah
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Hamilton, James (Bothwell) McEIhone, Frank
Cohen, Stanley Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) McGuire Michael
Concannon, J. D. Hamling, William Machin George
Conlan, Bernard Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Hardy, Peter Mackie John P.
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Harper, Joseph Maclennan, Robert
Crawshaw, Richard Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)
Cronin, John Hari, Tr, Hn, Judith McNamara, J. Kevin
Crosland, Rt, Hn. Anthony Hattersley, ro Mahon, Simon (Bootle)
Crossman, Rt, Hn. Richard Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Haffer, Eric S. Marks, Kenneth
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Horam John Marsden, F.
Dalyell, Tam Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Marshall, Dr. Edmund
Davidson, Arthur Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy
Davies, Denzil (Lianelly) Huckfield, Leslie Mayhew, Christopher
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Meacher, Michael
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Hughes, Mark (Durham) Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Mendelson, John
Deakins, Eric Hughes, Roy (Newport) Mikardo, Ian
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Hunter, Adam Millan, Bruce
Delargy, Hugh Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Miller. Dr. M. S.
Milne, Edward Probert, Arthur Strang, Gavin
Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, lichen) Radice, Giles Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Molloy, William Reed, D. (Sedgefield) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.) Thomas, Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff, W.)
Morris. Alfred (Wythenshawe) Rhodes, Geoffrey Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Richard, Ivor Tinn, James
Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon) Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Tomney, Frank
Moyle, Roland Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon) Torney, Tom
Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Robertson, John (Paisley) Tuck, Raphael
Murray, Ronald King Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Brc n&R'dnor) Urwin, T. W.
Oakes, Gordon Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees) Varley, Eric G.
Ogden, Eric Roper, John Wainwright, Edwin
O'Halloran, Michael Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock) Walden, Briar, (B'm'ham, All Saints)
O'Malley, Brian Rowlands, Ted Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Oram, Bert Sandelson, Neville Wallace, George
Orbach, Maurice Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne) Weitzman, David
Orme, Stanley Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney) Wellbeloved, James
Oswald, Thomas Short, Rt.Hn.Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Padley, Walter Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich) Whitehead, Phillip
Paget, R. T. Sillars, James Whitlock, William
Palmer, Arthur Silverman, Julius Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Skinner, Dennis Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Parker, John (Dagenham) Small, William Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange) Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.) Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Pavitt, Laurie Spearing, Nigel Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Spriggs, Leslie Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Pendry, Tom Stallard, A. W.
Perry, Ernest G. Stewart, Donald (Western Isles) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg. Stoddart, David (Swindon) Mr. Donald Coleman and
Prescott, John Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John Mr. James A. Dunn.
Price, William (Rugby)
Adley, Robert Cooper, A. E. Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick Grylls, Michael
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Cormack, Patrick Gummer, J. Selwyn
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Costain, A. P. Gurden, Harold
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Critchley, Julian Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)
Astor, John Crouch, David Hall, John (Wycombe)
Atkins, Humphrey Crowder, F. P. Hall-Davis, A. G. F.
Awdry, Daniel Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hannam, John (Exeter)
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. Jack Harrison, Brian (Maldon)
Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord Dean, Paul Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)
Batsford, Brian Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Haselhurst, Alan
Bell, Ronald Dixon, Piers Havers, Sir Michael
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Dodds-Parker, Sir Douglas Hawkins, Paul
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Drayson, G. B. Hayhoe, Barney
Benyon, W. du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward
Berry, Hn. Anthony Dykes, Hugh Heseltine, Michael
Biffen, John Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John Hicks, Robert
Biggs-Davison, John Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Higgins, Terence L.
Blaker, Peter Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Hiley, Joseph
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Elliott, R. W (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Hill, S. James A.(Southampton, Test)
Boscawen, Hn. Robert Emery, Peter Holland, Philip
Bossom, Sir Clive Eyre, Reginald Holt, Miss Mary
Bowden, Andrew Farr, John Hooson, Emlyn
Braine, Sir Bernard Fell, Anthony Hordern, Peter
Bray, Ronald Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Hornsby-Smith, Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia
Brinton, Sir Tatton Fidler, Michael Howell, David (Guildford)
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Hunt, John
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Hutchison, Michael Clark
Bryan, Sir Paul Fookes, Miss Janet Iremonger, T. L.
Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus, N&M) Fortescue, Tim Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Buck, Antony Foster, Sir John James, David
Bullus, Sir Eric Fowler, Norman Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)
Burden, F. A. Fox, Marcus Jennings, J. C. (Burton)
Butler, Adam (Bosworlh) Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone) Jessel, Toby
Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray & Nairn) Fry, Peter Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)
Carlisle, Mark Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D. Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Gibson-Watt, David Jopling, Michael
Cary, Sir Robert Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith
Channon, Paul Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Kaberry, Sir Donald
Chapman, Sydney Glyn, Dr. Alan Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Kershaw, Anthony
Chichester-Clark, R. Goodhart, Philip Kilfedder, James
Churchill, W. S. Goodhew, Victor Kimball, Marcus
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Gorst, John King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Gower, Raymond King, Tom (Bridgwater)
Cockeram, Eric Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Kinsey, J. R.
Cooke, Robert Gray, Hamish Kitson, Timothy
Coombs, Derek Green, Alan Knight, Mrs. Jill
Knox, David Osborn, John Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Lambton, Lord Owen, Idris (Slockport, N.) Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Lamont, Norman Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby) Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Lane, David Page, John (Harrow, W.) Stokes, John
Langford-Holt, Sir John Parkinson, Cecil Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Le Marchant, Spencer Percival, Ian Sutcliffe, John
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Pike, Miss Mervyn Tapsell, Peter
Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Pink, R. Bonner Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Longden, Sir Gilbert Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)
Loveridge, John Price, David (Eastleigh) Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Luce, R. N. Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L. Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)
McAdden, Sir Stephen Proudfoot, Wilfred Tebbit, Norman
MacArthur, Ian Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Temple, John M.
McCrindle, R. A. Quennell, Miss J. M. Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
McLaren, Martin Raison, Timothy Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Macmillan,Rt.Hn.Maurlce (Farnham) Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
McNair-Wilson, Michael Redmond, Robert Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest) Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.) Tilney, John
Maddan, Martin Rees, Peter (Dover) Tope, Graham
Madel, David Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Trew, Peter
Marten, Neil Ridsdale, Julian Tugendhal, Christopher
Mather, Carol Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey Turton, Rt. HN. Sir Robin
Maude, Angus Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.) Vaughan Dr. Gerard
Mawby, Ray Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Waddington, David
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Ros , Peter Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Miscampbell, Norman Royle, Anthony Walker-Smith Rt Hn Sir Derek
Mitchell,Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire,W) Russell, Sir Ronald Wall, Patrick
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) St. John-Stevas, Norman Walters, Dennis
Moate, Roger Sandys, Rt. Hn. D. Ward, Dame Irene
Money, Ernie Scott, Nicholas Wells, John (Maidstone)
Monks, Mrs. Connie Scott-Hopkins, James White, roger (Gravesend)
Monro, Hector Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Montgomery, Fergus Shelton, William (Clapham) Wiggin, Jerry
More, Jasper Shersby, Michael Wilkinson, John
Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Simeons, Charles Winterton, Nicholas
Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Sinclair, Sir George Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Morrison, Charles Skeet, T. H. H. Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Mudd, David Smith, Cyril (Rochdale) Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Murton, Oscar Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington) woodnutt? Mark
Nabarro, Sir Gerald Soref, Harold Worsley, Marcus
Neave, Airey Speed, Keith Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Nicholls, Sir Harmar Spence, John Younger, Hn. George
Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Sproat, lain
Normanton, Tom Stainton, Keith TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Nott, John Stanbrook, Ivor Mr. Walter Clegg and
Onslow, Cranley Steel, David Mr. Bernard Weatherill.
Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally

Question accordingly negatived.