HC Deb 27 November 1973 vol 865 cc199-200
10. Mr. Golding

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will establish an independent committee of inquiry into the working of the Price and Pay Code.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

No. Sir.

Mr. Golding

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Post Office has been told that the £50 special allowance to Irish Post Office employees, which the Post Office wants to pay because of the hazardous conditions under which they have been working, has to be met from the 1 per cent. flexibility allowance for other workers, which means that the English, Welsh and Scottish Post Office workers will be paying this allowance? Is this not scandalous? How many other injustices of this sort have been discovered under the code?

Mr. Macmillan

I had a long discussion about this problem with the unions concerned. I have great sympathy for their position. There are other negotiating groups and other jobs in Northern Ireland in a similar position.

Mr. Dykes

Does my right hon. Friend not agree that the public saw the merits, the value and the relative success of phases 1 and 2, despite the problem of overseas price rises, and that they now expect the Government to pursue phase 3 with equal energy?

Mr. Macmillan

I think that that is correct, and I am happy to say that so far, under stage 3, there have been 74 settlements, covering 1¼ million workers, which have been notified to the Pay Board.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have sent to him and his Department, to the Prime Minister and to other Ministers details of dozens of cases of company directors deliberately breaking phases 1 and 2 over the whole period and getting thousands of pounds in increased salaries? Does he agree that the Prime Minister and he have refused to take any action—as have the Pay Board and the Price Commission? Does this not show that the present situation is completely unfair, especially when the hon. Member keeps viciously attacking the AUEW?

Mr. Macmillan

The Pay Board investigates any case that is brought to its attention—

Mr. Lewis

It has refused.

Mr. Macmillan

—of a breach of the pay code. It also carries out spot checks in order to check on such abuses.

Mr. Lewis

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the fact that the information that the Minister has is wrong, I beg to give notice that I shall seek an early opportunity of raising the matter on the Adjournment.