HC Deb 11 December 1978 vol 960 cc24-5
29. Mr. Hal Miller

asked the Lord President of the Council when he expects to receive the report of the Boyle Committee on Members' salaries.

Mr. William Price

I cannot give a specific date, but I can assure the hon. Member that the review body is aware of the general urgency behind the reference, and in particular of the importance which is attached to completing the recommendations on the parliamentary salary before the annual review date next June.

Mr. Miller

I thank the Minister for that reply. Can he assure the House that the Government will introduce a substantive motion to give effect to the Boyle report? When considering the terms of that motion, will he see that much greater emphasis is placed on salaries and far less on expenses which are always open to misrepresentation, if not abuse?

Mr. Price

We have referred the matter, and we have asked for it to be dealt with as quickly as possible. What I said in July still holds for the Government. It would be difficult to give a blind commitment to implementing the whole of Boyle at this stage. But we have made it clear that we recognise the problems which exist. There would have to be clear and compelling reasons for the recommendations not to be accepted.

Mr. John Garrett

Does my hon. Friend agree that the Government could take substantial steps to improve the effectiveness of Members of Parliament without waiting for the report of the Boyle committee by, for example, allowing expenditure by individual hon. Members on research assistance to the extent of at least one full-time research assistant, in addition to secretarial support?

Mr. Price

That goes rather wide of the original Question, but my right hon. Friend the Lord President will have heard my hon. Friend's remarks.

Mr. McCrindle

If, for any reason, the Government find it impossible to implement the Boyle report for which we are waiting, can the Minister assure us that it might be possible to implement the last one?

Mr. Price

I have had this job for four and a half years. It is one that I should happily give to anyone who wanted to volunteer for it, but I do not find many people queueing up for it. This is not an easy matter. We have a problem in the country. I believe that the time has come to face it and to do what is necessary.