HC Deb 18 May 1976 vol 911 cc1192-3
4. Mr. MacGregor

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether, in the current discussions on the new pay policy to be pursued after 1st August the Government are proposing that increments be excluded from the limits in the next phase in the same way as they have been this year.

33. Mr. Rooker

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will introduce legislation to freeze incremental pay scales during the next phase of pay policy.

Mr. Harold Walker

Under the TUC proposals for the period from 1st August the overall pay figure would in general be applied in the same way as in the current policy, which requires an offset to be made where allowable incremental payments involve a net cost.

Mr. MacGregor

Is it not grossly unfair that many people on incremental scales have been able for two years running to get more than the £6-a-week limit and the 4½ per cent. limit? This mainly applies to the public sector and is greatly resented by those in the private sector who are not on incremental scales, including those on merit award schemes, which are similar to increments but which are not exempted. In the interests of a fair policy, would it not be better to exclude increments altogether?

Mr. Walker

The Chancellor of the Exchequer accepted on 5th May that there was a problem with incremental payments, and pointed out that in successive Government's incomes policies so far, one of the main problems had been the need to tackle and make allowances for incremental payments. The policy does not discriminate in favour of Government employees. By no means all of them receive such incremental payments.

Mr. Rooker

Incremental payment schemes have been used in this country in order to pay considerably less than the rate for the job. This is particularly so in the case where the Post Office have a scale stretching over 14 years. This is a heaven-sent opportunity, with the Government-imposed pay policy to do something about the situation. It is particularly unfair where people earning over £10,000 a year are able to get increments of £5 plus the £6 a week, as opposed to other people, at the top of their incremental scales, who earn only £40 a week and cannot get further increments.

Mr. Walker

The Government do face difficulties dealing with incremental payments. It would be advisable for the House to wait for the detailed statement that the Chancellor has promised.