HC Deb 21 May 1973 vol 857 cc22-4
30. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what pay increases he has recommended to the Pay Board for civil servants within the jurisdiction of his Department in phase 2; what will be the cost; how many persons are involved; and whether he will make a statement.

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

Pay increases ranging from £2.15 to nearly £4 per week for those who are 21 or older have been approved by the Pay Board for most non-industrial civil servants. These increases will be paid from 1st April. They cover nearly 490,000 staff and are estimated to cost about £63 million in a full year.

Sir G. Nabarro

Are the civil servants satisfied with this settlement or is it to be only an interim settlement pending renewal of all the claims or a major part of them under phase 3? Will my hon. Friend assure the House beyond peradventure that there will not be any further threats of strikes and the withholding of payment of pensions and other similar facilities from the elderly?

Mr. Baker

With regard to my hon. Friend's latter point, I think that the union concerned is now having second thoughts about having a strike to prevent the payment of pensions. I am sure that it is wise to have those second thoughts.

Regarding the question of anomalies, the Pay Board will report in September, or possibly before then, on the general question of anomalies. The anomalies related to the Civil Service are among those to be considered. The Government will then consider how the principle suggested by the Pay Board can be applied to civil servants.

Mr. Kaufman

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the gravest anomaly of all is the fact that the failure of civil servants to get their reward on the comparability basis has permanently deprived them of part of their pension and that this has aroused great bitterness among them? Is he further aware that this matter requires not merely the Pay Board but the Government to assure civil servants that they will get the full pension that they would have earned had it not been for phase 1?

Mr. Baker

The hon. Gentleman has raised an important point. He will recognise that it raises a difficult problem, which the previous administration also faced and for which they were unable to find a solution. Discussions on this point are continuing with the National Staff Side, and perhaps a way through will be found.

Mr. Biffen

Is it fair to deduce from my hon. Friend's answer that the maximum increase for an accountant employed in the Civil Service is about £200 a year? Does he consider that an increase of that magnitude will anything like keep up with the increase in the going rate for accountants in the private sector?

Mr. Baker

My hon. Friend touches upon the fact that in this settlement there has been a deliberate attempt to move wage increases down the scale to some extent. The National Staff Side as a whole decided on a plan to give the lower-paid bigger increases, and we were glad to accede to this because it accords with Government policy.

Mr. Heffer

Is not the point made by the hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen) absolutely valid? If these people were not inside the Civil Service but were self-employed, they could negotiate exactly what they wanted. Is not this totally unfair? Is it not time that the Government recognised the unfairness of their policy, particularly as the self-employed can get precisely what they like without any Government control?

Mr. Baker

I do not accept that it is unfair to direct what assistance may be given in the pay settlement this year to the lower-paid in the Civil Service. As I said in an earlier reply, the Government have referred to the Pay Board the question of the anomalies of the higher-paid civil servants.