HC Deb 19 July 1978 vol 954 cc518-20
10. Mr. Buchanan-Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will now make a statement regarding the negotiations between the employers' and employees' sides of the National Joint Council and his Department regarding the anomalies in the pay and conditions of local government employees since local government reorganisation.

Mr. Gregor MacKenzie

My noble Friend the Minister of State has arranged to meet both sides on 28th July. The resolution of anomalies must be done through the normal negotiating machinery for pay settlements and in the light of pay policy.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that within the same employing authority there can be a difference of as much as £20 a week in the wages of employees doing exactly the same job? That has been going on now for more than three years. Does the Minister regard that as fair? Is he aware that this matter has been shuttled back and forth between local authorities, the NJC and the Government Department responsible for pay policy? In the interests of equity and justice, will he please do everything he can to resolve this?

Mr. MacKenzie

I understand that there are anomalies. My right hon. Friend is to see the organisation concerned, at its request. This has to be a matter for employers and employees. There is nothing in the Government regulations or guidelines that prevents the anomalies from being ironed out, provided, of course, the organisations concerned regard the guidelines seriously.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the differences in pay originally arose because the people were employed by different education authorities—in the one case by the city of Aberdeen, which was a Labour-controlled education authority, paying reasonable wages, and in the other by a county authority failing to live up to its responsibilities? Might not one of the reasons why the levelling-up process is not taking place quite so quickly be that control of education in the Grampian region is now in the hands of a Conservative administration?

Mr. MacKenzie

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that suggestion. I can only repeat what I said in my original answer and in the following supplementary answer. This matter must be resolved by the local authorities and their employees within the Government guidelines. It is very important that it should be done in that way.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the grossly unsatisfactory nature of the right hon. Gentleman's reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise this matter on the Adjournment.

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