§ 37. Mr. Radice
asked the Minister for the Civil Service what reply he has sent to the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street to his letter of 14th May about the pay of industrial civil servants; and whether he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Robert Sheldon
My letter of 30th May to the hon. Member explained that industrial civil servants were now covered by a Stage 3 threshold agreement and that their pay would be further improved as a result of the current annual review. An offer, consistent with Stage 3, has
§ Mr. Sheldon
Yes, the point has been well put to us and, of course, there has been an undertaking that we shall look urgently at the various structure questions which affect the science group. This examination will have the advantage of taking into account the matters raised by my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Neave
I thank the Minister for the initiative he has taken in reaching this immediate settlement. Arising out of the question of the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Dr. Cunningham), may I ask how far parity has been reached in this particular circumstance and when the future pay research review will be completed?
§ Mr. Sheldon
The future pay research review is expected to be completed in 1976. As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, it takes some considerable time to set up, but this has been accepted by both sides. Concerning the approach to parity, this is now within 3 per cent. or 4 per cent. of the administrative class and is well within the limits proposed by the Pay Board.
§ Following is the information:
§ The new rates from 1st January 1974 are as follows:
§ since been made to increase basic rates of pay from 1st July by between £2.32 and £2.38 a week for men, with rather larger increases for women who will benefit from a further step towards equal pay. There would also be some improvement in holiday pay.
§ Mr. Radice
I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he not agree, however, that in the battle against low pay the Government have a responsibility? Will he take action after the joint investigation which has been promised, as I understand it, between management and trade unions into the gap between the level of pay in the industrial Civil Service and comparable pay elsewhere if this gap proves to be as wide as the trade unions suspect?
§ Mr. Sheldon
As my hon. Friend has pointed out, the outcome of the joint comparability investigation will not be known for some time. The investigation will present a number of practical difficulties in establishing not only fair job comparisons but also what account needs to be taken of differences in pay systems, earnings under them, hours worked and various other conditions of service. This will be proceeded with as quickly as possible.