HC Deb 16 July 1979 vol 970 cc1164-215
Mr. Brittan

I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 5, leave out Subject to subsection (3) '.

The Second Deputy Chairman (Mr. Richard Crawshaw)

With this we may take the following amendments: Government amendment No. 2.

No. 4, in page 1, line 10, leave out subsection (3) and insert— (3) For any period during which a Representative is a Member there shall be payable to him as Member's ordinary salary only such proportion thereof as is payable to a junior Minister of the Crown for the time being.

No. 5, in page 1, line 10, leave out subsection (3).

Government amendments Nos. 6, 11, 12, 13.

No. 19, in clause 2, page 2, line 31, at end add:— '(3) This section shall not apply to a person who immediately before the end of the five year period was entitled to receive a salary pursuant to any resolution or combination of resolutions of the House of Commons relating to the remuneration of Members.'.

Government amendments Nos. 16, 17, 18.

Mr. George Cunningham

On a point of order, Mr. Crawshaw. One of the amendments in the group is No. 19, standing in the names of my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Rees), myself and other hon. Members. It raises issues separate from the other amendments and I hope that you will be prepared to consider, without necessarily committing yourself now, a request for a separate vote, if necessary, on amendment No. 19.

The Second Deputy Chairman

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will raise that point when we reach amendment No. 19.

Mr. Ogden

On a point of order, Mr. Crawshaw. The provisional list of amendments does not include my amendment No. 3, which refers to a specific period of time. The clause and the amendments that have been accepted refer to "any period" of time, "a period" of time and even a specific day.

I cannot ask why my amendment has not been accepted. I hope that there has been a mistake. It refers to a particular period of time, and the whole clause and the subsection refer to a period of time, or other periods of time. If that form of words was out of order, would it be possible for you, Mr. Crawshaw, to accept a manuscript amendment or new clause that would have virtually the same effect but would be within the rules of order?

The Second Deputy Chairman

The hon. Gentleman may discuss that matter in the debate on the clause. The Chairman has selected the amendments, and is not for me to question why amendments have or have not been selected.

Mr. Brittan

When the Bill received a Second Reading, I undertook that the Government would consider all the matters that had been raised by right hon. and hon. Members. I stressed that the strong views that had been expressed by several of my right hon. and hon. Friends about the position of dual-mandated Representatives would be examined and that the Government would give the matter fresh consideration. The result of the Government's reconsideration is set out in amendments Nos. 1, 2, 6, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17 and 18 in the name of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

The Government's proposal is that Representatives who are also Members of the House of Commons should receive two salaries, one ordinary salary as a Member of this place and a second salary as a Representative of the European Assembly which is equivalent to one-third of the ordinary salary of the House of Commons.

There are other approaches to the issue on the Order Paper. The hon. Members for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) and for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) propose that dual-mandated representatives should receive two full salaries. My right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) and some of my hon. Friends favour the proposition that dual-mandated Members should receive a full salary as Members of the European Assembly together with a second salary as Members of Parliament, which would be abated in the same way as the parliamentary salary of a junior Minister of the Crown. In his attempt severely to limit the remuneration of European Parliament Members, the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Stoddart) is in the minority.

In considering the payment of dual-mandated Members, the Government had to take into account how to react to the real expressions of opinion of many of my right hon. and hon. Friends based on the position in other Community countries. Of the other eight member States, only the Republic of Ireland has enacted legislation to pay two full salaries. Representatives from Belgium, the Federal Republic of Germany and France will receive only one salary, and that is likely to be the position in Italy. No decisions have yet been announced in Luxembourg or the Netherlands. In Denmark the Folketing salary of dual-mandated members will be abated when periods of leave of absence to attend the European Parliament have formally been granted.

The Government are prepared to accept—

Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)

What is the position of persons within the United Kingdom who hold a dual mandate in Northern Ireland and in the House of Commons?

Mr. Brittan

I am not able to inform hon. Members without looking into the matter, but I shall certainly do so.

Mr. English

The hon. and learned Gentleman did not quite explain the position in Germany. Is there any job for which anybody is permitted to obtain remuneration outside the German Parliament as well as a salary from the Bundestag?

Mr. Brittan

I have no information about that.

Mr. English

Then ask. The hon. and learned Gentleman is a Minister of the Crown.

Mr. Brittan

If the hon. Gentleman will contain himself, I shall attempt to answer his question.

Mr. English


10.30 p.m.

Mr. Brittan

If the hon. Gentleman is not prepared to wait, it is much more difficult to give him an answer.

The position in the Federal Republic of Germany and in France, in relation to the European Assembly, is that their Members will receive only one salary. I am not entirely persuaded that there is a direct analogy that we need to pursue regarding relations and regulations in Germany on other jobs done by Members of the Bundestag. I am merely setting out the general picture on the handling of this matter by the European Parliament. I am seeking, in that context, to explain the change that the Government are proposing compared with the Bill as it was when it first came before the House.

The Government are prepared to accept now that there are unusual circumstances in the United Kingdom which require special recognition in the form of a supplement to the basic Member of Parliament's salary in spite of the fact that in so many of the countries of Europe only a single salary is to be paid. It is expected that the constituency links of a United Kingdom Representative will be more demanding than is elsewhere the case. It is acknowledged, for example, that this House sits for longer periods than is normally the case in Assemblies on the continent of Europe. We therefore acknowledge that Representatives with a dual mandate have a case for an extra portion of income.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

During the debates on the European Assembly Elections Bill, it was stated often from this side of the House, on which Conservative Members then sat, that the need for the Bill was related to the impossibility of doing both jobs. Since those who put themselves forward as candidates at that time knew that the likelihood was that they would receive only one salary, will the hon. and learned Gentleman say that as there are only 24 hours to the day they must provide a lesser service in one set of circumstances or the other?

Mr. Brittan

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's proposition that those who put themselves forward for election both to this House and to the European Assembly thought, or had any reason to believe, that they would receive only one salary. The position was left open. We put the matter fairly and, I hope, clearly in the debate on Second Reading. We listened to what hon. Members said, and we are now responding. It is right that the gap should be filled, not on the basis of expectations that might or might not have been aroused in the absence of a clear definition or description one way or the other but on the basis of the merits of the case as expounded in debate in the House. I hope that the Committee will feel that the Government have been responsive to the arguments that have been put forward.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby suggested that the Government should align with the existing arrangements for junior Ministers. That proposal has considerable merits. My right hon. Friend's suggestion would involve an abatement of the House of Commons salary rather than the European salary. Although in principle the idea has its attractions, the difference in practice is not great. The advantages of proceeding in the way I have suggested are real, because the Bill is a Bill about European salaries rather than a Bill about the salaries of Members of this House.

Once matters were put on the basis of what one should receive for membership of this House, a number of extraneous considerations would arise. Naturally, in attempting to reach what must be a compromise solution to this problem, one is bound, in a sense, to be arbitrary, but arbitrary, I hope, in a way that reflects the balance of feeling on this issue and the balance of the argument.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell (Southampton, Itchen)

The hon, and learned Gentleman has made a curious argument. I gather that the reason he gives for paying the extra salary to those with a dual mandate, whereas a similar position is not being adopted in France or Germany, is that in Britain the European Member will have greater constituency duties than Members in other countries. In that case, why is the extra money not being paid to all European MPs? They will have the same constituency duties. Dual-mandated Members will still receive an allowance for duties in relation to their jobs here. If that is the argument, why is payment not to be made to all Members?

Mr. Brittan

The answer is simply that the other Members receive a full salary which is a more substantial recognition of the duties which they are performing.

Our conclusion was that the most straightforward solution was to provide for the payment of an additional one-third of salary on the understanding that this would provide a firm basis for dual-mandated Representatives to carry out their duties.

It might assist the Committee if I spelt out the consequences of that in money terms. It means that the five dual-mandated Representatives will receive £12,600 per annum, rising to £16,000 on 13 June 1981. This compares with £9,450, rising to £12,000, for those who are Members of the Westminster Parliament alone.

Any solution to this problem is bound to savour of a compromise and in that sense to be arbitrary, but I hope the Committee will feel that the solution at which we have arrived recognises that the Members of the European Assembly who are also Members of this House have been properly and lawfully elected to serve in the two Parliaments and that recognition ought to be given to that in the financial provision made for them. That is the basic principle upon which we are operating.

At the same time, it would be wrong simply to give them the two salaries, especially when one looks at what is going on in the other countries of Europe. Therefore, it is reasonable to arrive at a compromise. It is that compromise that I am seeking to put before the Committee.

Mr. Ron Leighton (Newham, North-East)

The hon. and learned Gentleman keeps referring to the "problem". What is the problem?

Mr. Brittan

The problem is quite simply that there are some Members who have been elected both to this House and to the European Assembly. One pays them the full salaries for both Parliaments, pays them only for this Parliament and pays them nothing for the other Parliament, even though they have been properly and lawfully elected to it, or seeks to devise some sort of compromise recognizing that they are fully entitled to expect remuneration for their work in Europe but that it would be wrong to pay the full salary. It is this problem that the Government seek to solve in the way suggested in the amendments.

Mr. English

When the hon. And learned Gentleman and his right hon. and hon. Friends were in Opposition, they supported the European Assembly Elections Bill. That measure was supported by both major parties and passed by an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons. Can the hon. and learned Gentleman refer me to where the then Opposition raised this point as a problem during the passage of that Bill?

Mr. Brittan

I have no intention of giving any such reference, if it exists. It seems to me that at this stage the Committee should be considering what is the proper course to adopt in this matter. I do not believe that any useful purpose is served by going back into the history of it. This is not a matter on which there should be any conflicting interests. I should have thought that right hon. and hon. Members would want to do the right thing by Members of this House and by the Members of the European Assembly. That is what the Government are seeking to do.

Mr. Russell Johnston

The hon. and learned Gentleman has referred more than once to the fact that in reaching this compromise, which he recognises to be such—I was amused slightly that he should feel that a compromise should be more arbitrary than a decision one way or the other—he had to take account of the fact that in Germany only one salary was being paid. Did he also take account of the level of that salary?

Mr. Brittan

We have had to take account of all these factors. I do not think that there is anything amusing in the suggestion that a compromise is more arbitrary than a solution at either end of the spectrum. The reason why it is is that the solution at either end of the spectrum involves one in deciding that the particular considerations are overwhelming and must therefore he given effect. A solution by way of compromise recognises that both considerations are genuine and that one is seeking to balance the two. Precisely where one places the balance is bound to be arbitrary. In that sense, a compromise in a matter of this kind is likely to be less strictly logical than a solution in favour one one argument rather than another.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

The Minister said that he did not want to hark back, but he has a duty to the Committee. He should explain why the Home Secretary and perhaps others changed their minds on this matter. The Committee has a right to know.

Mr. Brittan

The reason is that the Government listened to the debate on Second Reading. It is as simple as that. Although the concept of listening to the argument and responding to it may be unfamiliar to the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), it is one that the Government regard as being a creditable way of going about things.

Mr. Spearing

In reply to an earlier intervention of mine, the Minister said that the matter was left open. When my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) challenged him to provide chapter and verse from the time when his party was in Opposition, he declined to give it. He has also stated that the Home Secretary changed his mind. Since the Bill was published on 24 May, and clause 1(3) provided that no salary should be payable, how can he say that the matter was left open? Surely the matter was not left open by the fact that the Bill made no provision for a double salary.

Mr. Brittan

The hon. Member is under a misapprehension, and I must apologise if anything I said led him to it, although I do not believe that it did. The matter was left open in the sense that international decisions that were taken before the formulation of the legislation was put before the House did not determine whether or how the question of dual-mandated Members would be dealt with.

Let me now turn to amendment No. 19. The effect of this amendment is that a severance grant will not be paid to a Representative who is at the time of losing his seat also a Member of the House of Commons. Under the Bill as introduced, when no salary as a Representative was paid to dual-mandated Members, no severance grant was payable to such Members. But now that one-third of salary is to be paid to such people as Representatives, in addition to their House of Commons salaries, they will also be entitled to a one-third severance grant. That is one-third of salary for three months, equivalent to one month's House of Commons salary. At 1979 rates that is about £790 gross, and at 1981 rates £1,000.

The Government do not accept that there is anything inconsistent or anomalous in the Bill as it stands. In general terms, clause 2 applies the House of Commons severance grant scheme for the purpose of Representatives in the European Parliament. Where a Representative loses the seat at a general election of Representatives, he will be entitled to three months' salary as a severance payment.

10.45 p.m.

The Representative who is solely a Representative to the European Parliament will receive three months' extra salary, which will be equivalent to three months' salary as a Member of Parliament. The Representative who holds the dual mandate and is thereby in receipt of a salary as a Member of the House of Commons and a one-third supplemental salary as a Representative will receive the three-months' severance grant in relation to his salary as a Representative. Clearly, such a person will not receive any severance grant in relation to his seat in the House of Commons until he loses that seat at a subsequent general election.

If we recognise that it is right that a separate salary, however abated, should be paid to a Representative with a dual mandate, and that a separate pension should be provided, it follows that such Members should also be entitled to the appropriate severance payment if they lose their seats, although naturally, because the amount involved is less, the severance payment will also be less.

For those reasons I advise the Committee not to accept amendment No. 19.

Mr. Phillip Whitehead (Derby, North)

We are dealing with the logic of Lewis Carroll. The whole purpose of severance pay is to compensate a legislator who has lost his job and who is without gainful employment. In this case it is, by definition, impossible since it is unlikely that we shall have a European election and a British general election at the same time. The Minister is proposing to compensate a man who is still in gainful employment.

Mr. Brittan

That is a fallacy. If that were so, the ordinary severance payments which are enjoyed by Members of the House of Commons who lose their seats would not be enjoyed by those Members of the House who hold other jobs. I appreciate that some Labour Members think that it is wrong that any hon. Member should have any other gainful employment. I do not share that view. It would be absurd and illogical to carry out such a fundamental constitutional change by way of the side wind of European legislation.

Mr. George Cunningham

When a Member of the House who is a Minister loses both his position as a Member of the House and as Minister, he receives three months' salary grant. Does he receive the equivalent when he ceases to be a Minister?

Mr. Brittan

So far as I am aware, he does not. The hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) with his disarming gestures, makes exactly the wrong comparison. We are talking about the loss of office by a Member of the European Parliament. We are not discussing the loss of executive office as a member of the Government. The position of a Member of the European Parliament who loses his seat is analogous to that of a Member of the Westminster Parliament. A comparison with Ministers is not fruitful.

Mr. English

The Minister refers to a Member who loses his seat. Will he explain what he means? There is no severance pay for a Member who loses his seat. There is severance pay for a Member who stands and who is defeated in an election. This is an important matter. For example, if a Member is not re-adopted by his party there is no severance pay for that. If the Boundary Commission abolishes his seat, there is no severance pay for that. There is severance pay only if a Member stands and is defeated. He may stand as an indepen- dent or for another constituency, and then there is severance pay but there is no severance pay simply because a Member loses his seat.

Mr. Brittan

It may be that I am entirely wrong in this matter, but I suspect that the hon. Gentleman is positively the only person in the Committee today who has any doubt about what I meant. It is quite clear that this legislation treats Members of the European Assembly in exactly the same way as Members of this House from the point of view of severance. Whether he thinks that the provisions relating to Members of this House are right or wrong, the hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well what that provision is, and this legislation seeks to do no more than treat Members of European Assembly in a comparable way.

Mr. George Cunningham

The group of amendments that we are discussing relate principally to the proposal by the Government that a Member of this House who is also a Member of the European Parliament should be paid one full salary and one-third of the other salary. There are other matters also included in the group of amendments that we are discussing which are as important. These are, secondly, that the Member who is a dual should receive a pension in respect of his dual salary and, thirdly, the point that the Minister was just discussing, whether a Member who is a dual should receive a severance payment, if I can call it that, in relation not only to his House of Commons salary but also to his European salary.

On the main subject of whether a Member of both Parliaments should receive more than one salary, my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. Stoddart) has a related proposal to which we shall come later, although I suppose that it will fall if we adopt the Government's proposal in this group.

We went over this ground on Second Reading in the House and the point should not be lost that the Government have changed their mind on the issue. Since bringing forward the Bill in its original form, quite clearly saying that a Member who was a Member of both Parliaments should receive one salary only and none of the other, the Government have changed their mind. Therefore the onus lies upon the Government to satisfy the Committee extensively that there is some reason not only for doing so but why their first thoughts have had to be changed. We know the arguments that were adduced on Second Reading for doing so, but I do not think that the Minister has sufficiently justified those arguments or rebutted the arguments in opposition.

The Minister referred to the practice adopted by other member States of the Community. I acknowledge that it is rather difficult to obtain information about what other countries will do, if only because their proposals have not all been finalised as yet, but my information is that with the exception of the Irish Republic there is no certainty that any other member State of the Community will permit a dual to receive both, or a part of both, salaries. So the United Kingdom is putting itself into a different position from that of the other member States.

The decision that was taken by the Council of Ministers last November or December was intended to allow the member States to pay at different levels. That was the essence of the agreement, that the salary paid to a British person in the European Parliament should reflect the salary paid to a Member of the British Parliament, and so on round the Community. But it was intended to introduce a measure of consistency between the nine member States.

I suggest that the implication was that a person who was a Member of both Parliaments should not receive both salaries. Although that was not conclusively or explicitly stated in the agreement of last November or December, it was the implication of what was then agreed. That seems also to have been the conclusion of most of the other member States.

It might be said that, because the British pay British Members of Parliament very little by comparison with what the Germans pay, we ought to adopt a different practice of the payment of a dual salary. But surely that is to fly in the face of the agreement which said that the salary of a European Member should reflect the salary paid to a Member of the national Parliament.

Mr. Robert Rhodes James (Cambridge)

Surely the hon. Gentleman will recollect that last December the Council of Ministers agreed that the salaries of Members of the European Assembly should be exactly the same as they were for the national Assemblies. There was no dealing with the problem of the dual mandate, and certainly there was no agreement that Members of the European Assembly should be paid nothing at all, which was the original proposal of the Government.

Mr. Cunningham

I accept that the issue was not settled clearly by the Council of Ministers last November or December. What I am suggesting is that if one had to guess the intention from the decision as announced, it is more likely that one would guess that a dual salary should not be paid than that it should be paid. [Interruption.] Conservative Members are suggesting that I am wrong, but the fact is that most of the other member States are deciding the issue in a sense contrary to what the Government have now decided, and the Government are now deciding the issue in a sense different from what they themselves decided a couple of months back. Therefore, the balance of the argument seems to be on my side.

Mr. William Shelton (Streatham)

We are in a different situation with our system for the simple reason that not only do we have Members of Parliament who are paid, but when they become Ministers they retain a measure of that payment as well. In that sense they are dual mandated within this country. [HON. MEMBERS: " No."] Surely, in that sense, we are retaining the same arrangement for European Members.

Mr. Cunningham

If the hon. Gentleman thinks that that arrangement differentiates so starkly from the practices in other European countries, he does not know as much about the practices of other European countries as he ought to do in order to take part in this debate.

Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East)

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way, because he has given way a number of times already. Would he not accept that the greater consistency comes out of that to which my hon. and learned Friend the Minister referred, which was partly our more onerous duties because the Session here can be longer than in other Parliaments, but that, equally and pragmatically, this country, as well as the Republic of Ireland, with its multi-Member constituencies, is the only country of the Nine to have a constituency arrangement? Therefore, that provides its own justification.

Mr. Cunningham

If one were to take that into account, one would certainly expect Luxembourg to have a different arrangement because of the extremely tiny size of that country.

Mr. Brittan

Since the hon. Gentleman has mentioned Luxembourg, it is only right to reiterate that he would be wrong to assume that Luxembourg is making no arrangement for the payment of those with a dual mandate, because the position in Luxembourg is that no decision has yet been arrived at.

Mr. Cunningham

I know that, but the situation in Luxembourg is that Members of the Luxembourg Parliament do the job part-time. Therefore, considerations apply that do not apply in the rest of the Community. I am only suggesting that the considerations invoked by a number of Conservative Members do not bear upon the issue before us.

Let us concede at once that there is an argument for paying more than one full salary. It is not that there is no argument for it at all. There is an argument for doing so. It is that the law of the nation permits a person to be in both Parliaments. We could have said that it is so clearly impossible for a person to do both jobs that we will legally prohibit it. Some hon. Members might have wanted to do that, but we did not. My party prohibited it as a matter of party rules, but the law of the land permits it.

11 p.m.

Therefore, it is arguable that we should allow a person to draw at least part of the second salary if both bodies of electors are pleased to tolerate the situation. He will clearly have greater responsibilities and greater strains on his time and his pocket from doing both jobs, and there is a case for allowing him to have more than just one full salary. No one is suggesting that there is no case at all.

On the other hand, that is not what the Government originally came forward with in the light of the decision last November and December, neither is it what the then Government came forward with in the immediate aftermath. It is not what most of the other member States have come forward with. Many of the larger ones have prohibited the receipt of two salaries. It may be said that they pay their Members of Parliament much more than we do, but the essence of the decision last November was that the salary of European Members should reflect the salary of a national Member. So that point is automatically irrelevant.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

There is a strong logical argument that because people have been elected by their constituents to two different jobs they should be paid two full salaries. There is also logic in the argument that they should be paid only one salary, but there is no logic in saying that they should be paid one and a bit salaries.

Mr. Cunningham

There are many occasions in life when it is extremely sensible to reach a compromise between two logical solutions both of which are manifestly daft. My hon. Friend and I have exercised—over the past year in my case and rather longer in his—the job of being a delegate from this House to the European Parliament. On the basis of my experience in the past 15 months, I can say that we are talking not about two jobs but about at least three. There is the job in Westminster, the European Parliament and the constituency. In respect of at least one of the dual Members we are talking of four jobs, because the constituency for Europe is different from the constituency for Westminster. My experience was that out of the three jobs that I was expected to do during that 15 months, I could just about keep my head above water doing two but I certainly could not do three. It is, therefore, legitimate for us not to pay to any person who is exercising the dual mandate both full salaries.

Mr. Russell Johnston

Despite the hon. Gentleman's disarming frankness about his own position, surely he would agree as a democrat that the electorate are entitled to decide whether they want this fellow to be a Member of the European Parliament, the county council or whatever? If they think that he or she will give value, they are entitled to chose that Member.

Mr. Cunningham

If the hon. Gentleman were to put to the electorate in his constituency the question whether a Member should be paid one, two or 1.45 salaries, they would say to him "For goodness sake, what did we elect you for? "That is what we are deciding tonight. We are deciding the relative detail of just how much of two salaries should be paid to a Member who is exercising the dual mandate.

On the basis of experience, it is not possible for a Member to do both jobs to the full extent. Therefore, we are justified in not paying two full salaries. Secondly, I concede that there is a respectable argument for saying that more than one full salary should be paid. However, I wonder whether two or three years from now such newspaper reports as have appeared this week about moneys likely to be forthcoming to a Member of the European Parliament are likely to stop. I do not think so. I think it is likely that in a couple of years a Member of the European Parliament will not be short of money. If anything, the stories that appear in the newspapers criticising the availability of money to Members of the European Parliament will intensify in bitterness and complaint. We must bear that in mind in reaching a decision tonight.

On that basis, it would be wrong for the Committee to accede to the proposal of the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) that a dual Member should be paid one full salary and also the reduced salary which is payable to a junior Minister in the British system. In my view, that would be absolutely excessive. But the Government have come forward with a proposal for less than that—one and one-third salaries. On balance, I think that the Committee would be well advised to vote against that and to say that the dual Member should receive, as originally proposed, only one salary.

Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)

I suspect that the hon. Member has not had the advantage of reading the debate on Second Reading. He has just advanced the proposition that it is not important to us that we should pay these elected Representatives what they deserve but we should leave them to make it up on expenses. That is a very dangerous and immoral argument, and it is specifically rejected by Boyle in his report on our expenses.

Mr. Cunningham

Because of a new clause with which we shall deal in a later stage of the debate, we shall be able to discuss the question of expenses. It is entirely wrong to consider what salaries should be paid in the light of what expenses are available. But the general conditions available to a Member of the European Parliament should, to some extent, be taken into account.

Mr. English

My hon. Friend is slightly confusing an issue. When he referred to one and one-third salaries, he did not explain that it was the opposite way round. Ministers' salaries are in total as Ministers, and their salaries as Members of Parliament are reduced. In this case it is the opposite way round. Here we have an interesting precedent for saying that a Member should get his full salary as a Member of the House and one-third of the salary for his outside job. My hon. Friend has not commented on the virtue of applying that principle to Ministers.

Mr. Cunningham

In the normal way it should not matter, if we decide that a Member gets one and one-third salaries, whether he gets his full British salary and one-third of the other or vice versa. It is a matter of convenience.

However, there is a consideration about tax, which is a point in favour of the Government's argument. If we leave the Bill as it is, the dual Member will actually be worse off than the Member who is only a Member of this place. That is because the Member who has a dual mandate will have no salary in respect of his European office and, therefore, he will not be able to set against any European emoluments the 25 per cent. tax-free rule arising from an earlier Finance Act. It is a very small argument in favour of the Government's proposal.

May I point out to the Minister, in case he thinks of invoking this in his argument, that we do not allow our Foreign Service to take advantage of the 25 per cent. rule. Members of that service serve not just 30 days abroad but whole years abroad. But, because of the nature of their employment abroad as representatives of the British Government, we specifically exempt them in the Finance Act from obtaining an advantage from the 1975 or 1976 rule. If we do that in respect of members of the Foreign Service, I fail to see why we should not also exempt from that privilege Members of the European Parliament. I hope that I have negatived that argument, which the Minister could have mentioned in supporting his case.

I recommend to my hon. Friends that on balance—I stress the phrase "on balance "because there is a case on both sides—they should come down in favour of the Bill as it stands and against the Government's proposal.

This group of amendments includes two other items. The first seeks to make the pension of a dual Member reflect not only his British salary but his European salary. I think that that is reasonable.

Mr. Dykes

Would the hon. Gentleman change his mind in resisting the one and one-third basis if, for example, the European Parliament were to sit for two weeks in plenary session per month and five days in committee?

Mr. Cunningham

I think that we must arrive at some defensible line between what is decided in this House about European Assembly Members and what is decided by the European Parliament itself. In so far as there is any difference in conditions applying to a European Assembly Member because the Parliament meets once a month or every two months, that factor should be reflected in the payments made by the European Parliament.

A messy situation arises from the fact that payments are being made both from national funds on national decisions and from European funds on European decisions. Let us try to keep the line between them reasonably clear. We have to discuss on this group of amendments only the matter of salary, pension and termination of service grant. The considerations relevant thereto are those that the hon. and learned Member mentioned and not those raised by the hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes).

The Bill as it stands and with the Government amendment will mean that when a dual Member ceases to be a Member of the European Parliament but continues to be a Member of this Parliament, he will receive a termination of European service grant equal to three months of his European salary. Even if the House decides that we are to pay one and one-third salaries to a dual Member, I say that there is no justification for paying a termination grant on the extra one-third. Such a person is continuing to be in full-time remunerated employment as a Member of this House. He is therefore not thrown out on the streets. He is ceasing to be a Member of the European Parliament but continuing to be a Member of this Parliament. What justification is there for his being provided, after he ceases to be a Member of the European Parliament, with three months' salary? We do not pay to a Minister who ceases to be a Minister while continuing to be a Member of this House any termination of service grant.

A comparison has been drawn on Second Reading and tonight between the position of a dual Member of the British and European Parliaments and a person who is in this Parliament and also a Minister. If we are drawing that comparison, there is no justification for the arrangement that has been put forward by the Government. If the Committee accepts the Government's main amendment, it should also support amendment No. 19, which would deny to the dual the three months' termination grant of his European salary if he continued to be a Member of this Parliament. I hope that if the main amendment is passed a separate Division on amendment No. 19 will be tolerated.

11.15 p.m.

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

I am grateful to the Minister for moving the amendment and taking into account the strong feeling that is felt by some hon. Members that those holding the dual mandate should not be deprived entirely of one of those salaries. I am grateful that an amendment has been placed on the Order Paper to that effect. I do not believe that the amendment has got the position quite right, but it takes into account the feeling of the Committee.

Whether or not one agrees with the idea of holding the dual mandate, it cannot be said that to be a Representative in the European Parliament reduces one's responsibilities in this House. There remain the responsibilities of keeping up with events in the House, taking part from time to time—just as often as the rest of us—in debates and carrying out constituency work. Those responsibilities are not reduced by election to the European Parliament, but there is an overlap of responsibilities. Therefore, there is not the capacity to spend as much time on each.

That should be taken into account in fixing the salary for those who hold the dual mandate. The precedent, which is a fair one, is that of Ministers in the House. Therefore, amendment No. 4 has been tabled in order that the parliamentary salary of those who hold the dual mandate should be abated in the same way as the parliamentary salary of a junior Minister.

I admit that I do not know what the figure would be, and I have never understood how the figure for a junior Minister's parliamentary salary is calculated. I tried to work it out on a small computer but, as always, I had to return to my fingers and work out the sums on paper. However, looking ahead to the figures for June 1981, I found a simple round set of calculations. The junior Minister will receive £7,000 of the £12,000 parliamentary salary. That gives the proportion of seven-twelfths. That is more generous than the figure in the Government amendment. Those who accept the dual mandate, having been elected to take the dual mandate, deserve more generosity than is proposed in the Government amendment. Therefore, I leave my amendment on the Order Paper and commend it to the Committee.

Mr. Ogden

The more I listen to the debate, the more I am confirmed in my opinion that the less that this Parliament has to do with the salaries, allowances and facilities of Members of the European Assembly, the better it will be for us and for them.

I also confirm again my opinion that I am a most modest, reasonable and restrained hon. Member. I explain that remark and its immodesty by the simple fact that amendment No. 1 first appeared in the name of the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby, to which was added, independently but with great common sense, the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English). It was then taken over—if that is the right expression—by the Home Secretary. It appears now with the names in the following order: the Secretary of State, the hon. Member for West Derby and the hon. Member for Nottingham, West. That is a list of three proconsuls which ought to bring tears to the eyes and terror to the hearts.

Both Front Bench speakers have admitted that their arguments are slightly less than logical. Both, I fear, are not putting forward entirely their own opinions but are doing the jobs for which they have accepted responsibility. I certainly hope that the arguments of the Minister are not his own. If they are, his claim that there is a basic principle involved has passed me by. It was like looking for the gold at the end of a rainbow. A number of my hon. Friends and I have negotiated salaries with Leaders of the House over the past 15 years, but trying to negotiate with the Minister of State would be like trying to negotiate with jelly.

I wish to refer to Government amendments Nos. 1, 2 and 6 and to amendment No. 5. I start on the narrow point that if the Government have virtually taken over amendments Nos. 1 and 6, they should also look at amendment No. 5 because that is a key amendment. If they are deleting provisions with amendments Nos. 1, 2 and 6, they ought also to delete the part of the Bill covered by amendment No. 5.

My purpose in putting forward amendment No. 5 is to delete and to leave deleted clause 1(3) and not to delete that and put in something else, though we recognise that the Government have made proposals and have moved one-third of the way towards payment of an hon. Member.

Let me give a parallel to the situation facing us. Some years ago, a multinational corporation was established on the Continent. Other national corporations decided that they would join it. The corporation grew in power and influence until its activities affected every part of its territories, and other corporations which had decided at first to stay out wanted to join. Whether the reasons of those corporations were good reasons or the old one of saying "If you cannot beat them, join them" is nothing to do with me.

Like many corporations on the Continent, the multinational had two boards of directors—an executive board and an advisory board. At first, the advisory board consisted of people who were sent as representatives of the national corporations. Because, inevitably, a large corporation attracts criticism, for good reasons or bad, it was decided that the advisory board would be filled by more directors who would be chosen by those in the territories where the company operated.

That was received with a great deal of interest. When a salary of £25,000 was mentioned for the directors, a very great deal of interest was attracted. Later a salary of £12,000 was mentioned, but there was still much interest. There was interest from those who were wholly in favour of the multinational corporation and from those who were opposed to the corporation and wanted it to be voluntarily liquidated or sent to Carey Street.

The day came when everyone in the territory had the chance to elect his own representative for his own area. The advisory directors were elected. Everyone who wanted to take part in the election could do so. The date was 3 May. The multinational corporation was the European Assembly. Fortunately or unfortunately, not many electors decided to vote, but the directors were elected.

If anyone in the Chamber or outside can honestly tell me that the electors did not expect the directors to be paid, I shall sit down immediately. The negotiations from £25,000 to £12,000 were hardly in the spirit of open government. They were not the burning topic of conversation. My complaint is that instead of getting the highest common multiple we achieved the lowest common denominator.

My union, the National Union of Mineworkers, would not have accepted the negotiations that took place. If the NUM had been involved, they would never have passed the first stage. However, when the elections took place all those who wanted a say expected the man they chose to be paid for the job and that he would be paid the rate for the job.

Following the elections, it became clear that Parliament was proposing that Representatives would not be paid the same rate and that the same rate would not even be paid to all the British Representatives. The result of the negotiations confirms my view that amateurs have been determining these matters, whether they be Conservative or Labour.

There will be one assembly, the European Assembly. Its Representatives will be doing almost the same job. However, their salary will depend on the country from which they come and not on the job that they are doing. If there is one basic claim in the Labour Party, it is the rate for the job.

Members from different countries will be paid different rates. At Bradford colliery, Manchester, there were English, Chinese, Dutch, Germans, Yugoslavs and others. If anyone had suggested that the rate we received for shifting coal should turn on the country of origin, he would not have lasted two minutes. He would not have remained a member of the union.

Representatives from different countries will be paid different rates, but some United Kingdom Representatives will be paid while others will not. They will all do the same job. It will not matter whether they have full-time or part-time jobs, whether they have money from investments or trusts or whether they have public responsibilities or private responsibilities. The only criterion will be whether they are Members of the House of Commons who have been elected Representatives of the European Parliament.

I remember the arguments about whether we should have direct elections. It was said that the people should decide who they wanted to represent them. There were arguments about patronage, power, Parliament and responsibility, but the central argument was that the people should decide. I say tonight that the people should decide. In fact, they have decided. They chose, rightly or wrongly, the United Kingdom representatives of the European Assembly.

I do not know how many of the Representatives are loaded, whether they need the money or whether they are on social security. It must have been known to the electors whether the candidates were well heeled and whether they needed the money that would be paid to them. Everybody knew that there would be a salary for the job. That is where this Parliament has reneged, in principle if not on promises.

Would any employer dare try it? No fear! To see a job advertised, go for it, be nominated and accepted and then be told that because one had an outside job one would not be accepted—

11.30 p.m.

Mr. George Cunningham

Before my hon. Friend gives the impression that the idea of denying a second salary is totally unacceptable, and would be to any reasonable person, perhaps he will concede that in the case of Denmark, Germany, France and the Netherlands, and maybe at least one other Community country, the second salary is not permitted.

Mr. Ogden

Let them decide for themselves. I shall stand on the principle that my union stands on, as do the teachers, the boilermakers and everyone else. I ask my hon. Friend not to blame me for what is done in Denmark. It would not be accepted by the German miners, the Dutch miners or the Belgian miners.

I say to the lawyers and to my hon. Friend that when one gets into the nitty-gritty and the details, the more complicated one makes a matter, the more difficult and illogical it becomes. This has been the whole basis of trying to have negotiations about our own salaries. We either have the principle and stick by it or we break it.

Mr. English

Will my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) ask my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) in whose law the things that he described were done? We are supposed to be talking about a Community matter. There is no principle of Community law that says that all those people should not be paid the same.

Mr. Ogden

I shall avoid that matter. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) will have heard the question and will no doubt reply to it. I get into enough trouble arguing about British law. My advice to my constituents is to keep as far away from the law as they can—to obey it but not to appeal to it, settling problems outside if possible

There is a simple, basic truth in all things. If we cannot expound it from the Labour Benches—I would prefer to expound it from the Government Benches—it is a pity. There is a fair rate for the job and there is a fair day's work for the job. They should be the same, whatever other commitments people have.

In the present circumstances, we have the worst of all possible worlds—complication upon complication. There is neither rhyme nor reason in what is proposed. We have a short time before the European Assembly Members will decide their own salaries—and let them pay for them properly. The only thing we can do in the meantime is to say "Other people on 3 May elected Representatives whom they expected to be paid. We should not later change the terms and conditions of employment."

Mr. Paul Hawkins (Norfolk, South-West)

I very much agree with what the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) has just said. The main argument is that the people elected their Representatives to the European Parliament—and I worked hard to get my Representative in—and expected them to be paid, as I expected to be paid when I came here. I am very surprised at the way in which the Government have behaved over our own salaries and the European Parliament salaries.

I believe that consultation would have produced a much more satisfactory solution in both cases. It seems that it had to wait until we had had our debates, which is not a satisfactory way of going about matters. That the decision was wrong in the first instance was soon proved by the feelings of the House. Everyone knows that when the House feels strongly about a matter it is right. The Government unfortunately have been wrong over these two matters.

I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page). I believe that the matter should have been dealt with as he suggested, although maybe we are not seeing the rate for the job. I do not know how on earth it was ever worked out.

I support the argument advanced by the hon. Member for West Derby. I hope that, now that the Government have come some way towards our way of thinking, we shall be able to ensure that those who have this hard task receive a decent salary. This is a task which I would not want to do, but these people have taken it on and have been elected by their electors. We must back them now.

Mr. English

May I ask the occupants of both Front Benches—I except hon. Members on the Back Benches on both sides of the Committee—why being elected to a job is supposed to be immoral? That is what the Bill is, in effect, saying and it is what both Front Bench representatives have been saying. They have been saying that it does not matter a hoot, once a person has been elected to the British House of Commons, if he takes any unelected outside job.

It was mentioned, I think, that the hon. and learned Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan), before he became a Minister, was a lawyer. This is not regarded as immoral in Britain.

Mr. Ogden

Dangerous, but not immoral.

Mr. English

I can see some force in the argument—it is an argument used by my hon. Friends the Members for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) and for Keighley (Mr. Cryer)—that an hon. Member should not be paid for any job outside this legislature. It is an argument, incidentally, which has nothing to do with the Left or the Right. As I understand it, it is accepted by the German Bundestag, which admittedly pays its members, its Abgeordnete, the highest salaries in Europe but, I believe, prohibits them from taking other, outside jobs.

If that is the argument of the two Front Benches—and I have to put the two Front Benches together because I wish to be fair to the hon. and learned Member for Cleveland and Whitby; we know that he has been landed in it. The Bill was originally drafted, as we understand it, by hon. Members on the Labour side of the Committee, although not the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham), who is forced to defend it here. We are in the remarkable situation of the two poor saps on the Front Benches being forced to defend something for which they have no responsibility—one because he happens to be a Conservative and the Bill was drafted by a Labour Government and the other because he has just been put on to the Opposition Front Bench; he was not allowed to be on the Front Bench when we were in office.

Mr. George Cunningham

This is, perhaps, the time to intervene to say that my strong experience in the past 15 months in the European Parliament has been that there inevitably is a reduction in the performance of an hon. Member of this House in this House as a result of doing even the minimum amount of service required in the European Parliament. I see my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Mitchell) nodding his head. My hon. Friend will recall that in his recent report Lord Boyle made great play of the fact that hon. Members of this House on average give so many hours' attention per week to the service of this House. I say that, inevitably, the number of hours that an hon. Member can give to his British constituents through his service in this House of Commons is limited by his being in the European Parliament, and that is the justification for the messy sort of compromise we have here.

Mr. English

I was not disputing that for a moment. What I was saying was that it is just possible—I put it no higher—that other outside jobs may infringe upon the totality of service that hon. Members may give to this House of Commons.

I want to make my position plain. I think, although I do not have a job outside the House, that the House benefits by some hon. Members having outside jobs. I also think that it benefits from the fact that some hon. Members do not have such jobs. But I do not see why election is immoral. I do not see why, because a man is appointed by a business man to be on his board of directors, because a man is paid by solicitors to be a barrister, because a man is paid as a solicitor by clients outside, that should not be regarded as immoral but being elected by half a million people or 300,000 people should be regarded as immoral. On that basis, one must have one's salary reduced because it is nasty and devious to have an outside job in a position to which one has been elected by the public. I do not see the logic behind this belief that pay is moral if it is not decided democratically.

Mr. Ogden

Surely the argument is not whether the job does or does not affect one job or the other or whether a Member of Parliament does his job less well because he is a Member of the European Parliament or does it better. I cannot see anyone doing both jobs equally well. Will my hon. Friend ask my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) and others who should decide whether a person is or is not doing a job? If those who elect a Member of Parliament decide that he cannot do his job because he is a Member of the European Parliament, they have a remedy. If they came from Liverpool, West Derby, they would certainly let the Member know. If the electors say that he cannot do the job, they will have to tell him. We should not decide who is or who is not doing a proper job. If one accepts that principle, there are dangers in this place for quite a few people.

Mr. English

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his helpful intervention.

One point that I should like the Minister of State to answer is whether this is legal. My hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Mitchell) correctly raised the point that the Treaty of Rome states clearly that once one stops indirectly electing Members of the European Assembly, one should elect them under a uniform law proposed by the European Assembly and agreed by the Council of Ministers. We have never done such a thing. They are elected by one form of election in one country, by a different form in another, and in Britain by a different system from all the others. We have gone further. We have said that we will not pay them as though they were European Assembly Members. We have said, as my hon. Friend, the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) pointed out, that we will pay them as if they were not European Assembly Members but as if they were Frenchmen, British or Germans representing Frenchmen, British or Germans though not elected to the European Assembly, at least not in pay. It will become worse when we reach a later amendment, but I would be out of order if I dealt with the matter now.

I should like to ask the Minister of State whether he has consulted the Law Officers about the legality of this matter. The European Community has a system different from English law. In English law, one can go to a court and seek a declaration that anyone, even a Government, is acting illegally. One can do that even if one belongs to the National Association for Freedom. One can even ask whether a trade union is acting legally. That is not possible in the European Community.

An individual in Community law is prohibited from asking the European Court whether the Council of Ministers is acting illegally unless that individual happens to be directly and personally concerned. It might be possible, for example, for one of the five hon. Members about whom we are talking to go and ask the Community Court whether this Government and this Parliament are acting legally. But we, as individuals, cannot go and ask that question of a court as we could in Britain. If a Government are acting illegally, we are not told.

Will the Minister say what legal advice the Government possess and what advice has been given by the Law Officers of the Crown? Will he tell the Committee and the public at large whether this proposal is legal in Community law?

I turn to my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury, who, I believe, has served in the Foreign Civil Service that he mentioned.

Mr. George Cunningham indicated dissent.

Mr. English

It was the Home Civil Service, was it?

Mr. Cunningham indicated dissent.

Mr. English

Was it any Civil Service under the Crown?

Mr. Cunningham indicated assent.

Mr. English

I thought that there was only a Home or a Foreign Civil Service. I thought there were only two, but there is, of course, a third in Northern Ireland. At any rate, I think that my hon. Friend has worked in a Civil Service under the Crown.

11.45 p.m.

Mr. Cunningham


Mr. English

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I am intrigued to know which. Perhaps he will tell me later.

But when my hon. Friend makes the comparison with civil servants, why does he not make the comparison between servants of the European Commission and home civil servants? This Community that we are in is not supposed to be a totally foreign body. I know that there are those hon. Members who wish it was, but it is not supposed to be. The Foreign Service is not a comparison. The Home Civil Service is a comparison with servants of the European Commission. But servants of the European Commission, unlike the elected Representatives to the European Assembly, are subjected only to a European form of tax which is at the most 25 per cent.—certainly less than our new standard rate and certainly less than our higher rates of tax.

Why should we support a system in which elected representatives are supposed to be paid less and taxed more than unelected people who sit in the Commission headquarters in Brussels using their immunities? They were described in The Guardian this morning as using their immunities to buy cheap liquor and to buy cheaper food than is normally available in Brussels with the taxes which are imposed on food there. Why should we say that elected European Assembly Members should have worse pay and conditions than they have? Why, indeed, should they have better conditions than home civil servants or, for that matter, civil servants in France, Germany or elsewhere? Why should they be the best treated citizens of the 250 million people in the Common Market? As I said earlier, why should one say that election is immoral?

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for adopting the amendment proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for West Derby and for adopting other amendments proposed by Government supporters. This is most generous. But I wonder whether, for once, we suffer from the lack of an Official Information Act such as those which exist in the United States and Sweden. This is a perfect example. Here we have a Bill which we all know was drafted by a previous Government. Under a peculiar rule called the previous Administration rule, criticised unanimously by the all-party Expenditure Committee, no member of the Cabinet is allowed to know why the previous Government adopted this stupid provision in the Bill. The hon. and learned Gentleman has to put it forward as though it were his own on behalf of a Government who do not know why it was put in the Bill.

There must be something wrong with a system of government which allows that to happen. The Expenditure Committee recommended unanimously that we should at least follow the example of the Republic of Ireland, where members of a Government are entitled to look at the papers of the previous Government, even if they are not allowed to quote them.

In this case, we are asked to amend a Bill containing a provision which says for some reason that in the House of Commons a precedent shall be created for not allowing people to be paid for a job outside if they are elected. If the hon. and learned Gentleman really thinks that that precedent will not be used by Members of this House to stop other hon. Members being paid for jobs outside, he needs to think again about the precedent that he has created. There are many of us who would say that it is an excellent precedent, but from the point of view of many of the Minister's colleagues and a few of mine it is a foolish one.

This proposal was put forward originally by the previous Government. We are not allowed to know why. In the United States we could ask why. We must ask ourselves whether this was originally suggested by a Minister or a civil servant. We must ask whether it was suggested by a person who was elected or by someone who was unelected and was simply arrogantly assuming that election was worse than appointment.

It is no wonder that there are people in this country who criticise and attack the Civil Service. If this sort of thing occurs—and, to be fair to them, there are many civil servants who genuinely believe that more open government would be better—are we to assume that Ministers of the Crown arrogantly assumed that people who were elected to jobs outside this Parliament were to be treated worse than people who were appointed to them Or are we to assume that appointed servants of the Crown made that assumption instead and that Ministers of the Crown merely accepted it without knowing what they were doing?

Mr. David Stoddart (Swindon)

If hon. Members have studied the list of amendments they will see that I have tabled a couple of amendments, which may or may not be called, depending on what happens to the amendment now before us. My amendments show that I believe that Members of the European Assembly, far from receiving the same salary as Members of this House, should receive less.

One amendment proposes that they should receive 75 per cent. of the salary of a Member of this House. In another I suggest that the salary should be based on attendance at the Assembly or its committees up to a maximum of £9,450 a year, and paid on the basis of £18 per sitting. The Minister will understand, therefore, that I do not support the Government amendment. I believe that it is dangerous. What the House of Commons is doing, and has been doing over a long period, is selling itself short. I wonder what is happening to the House of Commons.

Whenever the House takes an action of this sort which tends to give the impression that the European Assembly, an Assembly outside this country and with no loyalty to it, assumes an importance greater than this House, it is treading a dangerous road. That is what the House does every time it attempts to inflate the importance of the European Assembly or any of the EEC institutions.

The amendment proposes payment of a salary and one-third. On what basis can that be proposed? Has it been worked out scientifically, and, if so, on what basis? Or is it something that has just come into the Minister's head? Does he think that it will buy off the demand of five Members of this House out of a total of 635? Nearly half this House is precluded from taking on the two jobs. The Labour Party believes that a Member can do only one of the jobs properly at a time. I believe that. Boyle believes it as well. His recommendations for the salaries of Members of this House were based on the fact that it was a full-time occupation. If this is a full-time occupation, how on earth can a Member of this House do another job?

Mr. Les Huckfield (Nuneaton)

I am glad that my hon. Friend mentioned the view of the Labour Party. It takes the view not only that it is difficult to do two jobs but that it is desirable for an hon. Member to resign from the House before seeking nomination to a European constituency. The view taken by the Labour Party is a strong reinforcement of my hon. Friend's argument.

Mr. Stoddart

I am obliged to my hon. Friend. Being a Member of this House is a full-time job. It follows that a Member of both assemblies cannot do two jobs properly.

Mr. Michael Brown (Brigg and Scunthorpe)

Is the hon. Member aware that when his party was in power there were about 100 Ministers, of whom the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Huckfield) was one, who did two jobs? It is never suggested that Ministers fail to do their constituency duties properly. Why should the hon. Member make that suggestion?

Mr. Stoddart

I do not make that suggestion. Ministers are part of this Parliament. Unless they are Members of this Parliament they cannot be Ministers of the Crown. That is different from the position that exists in the EEC.

Mr. Whitehead

Does my hon. Friend agree that a Minister, in addition to his constituency responsibility, does his job only in the sense that a hardworking Back Bencher does his on Select Committees and elsewhere?

Mr. Stoddart

I am obliged to my hon. Friend. We are Members of a particular assembly. Whatever job we do within that assembly has its worth. Ministers are paid more than Back Benchers, although sometimes I wonder whether some of them are worth it.

Let us examine the job that must be done in the European Assembly, for which we are proposing to pay time and one-third, which we are equating with the job of hon. Members and for which there shall be paid a similar salary. Before direct elections, just under 200 Members did the job which over 400 Representatives will now do. Those Members did the job without salary.

Such people will still receive duty-free goods and expenses, but under the Bill they will also receive a salary which is equivalent to that of Members of the House of Commons. Previously, half the number did the same job for nothing. They had a salary for doing this job but no salary for doing the job in Europe. That is correct, is it not?

12 midnight.

Mr. Ogden

Given the difficulties of those Members who were sent as representatives of this Parliament to Europe, can my hon. Friend tell the House of anyone who complained in that time—not just that it was difficult and meant more work, but that it was impossible to do justice to his own constituents and do the European job at the same time? For three years that job was done on a dual mandate. No one complained that it was impossible and that he had to resign as a Member of this Parliament in order to serve in Europe.

Mr. Stoddart

I spent a little time in the Whips Office and we certainly had a number of difficulties arising from the dual mandate at that time, but I shall not go into them.

The responsibilities of European Assemblymen will not change. They have not changed and are not likely to change, certainly for as long as this House has anything to do with it—at least, I hope not. They will have no legislative power, yet we propose to nay them at the same rate of salary as Members of this House, and a greater salary than Members of the other place, who also have legislative powers.

I might have gone along with the Bill as it stood. I might not have objected. I might have said that in the nature of things it is an elected body and we shall have to pay Members a salary and if we propose to pay them a salary we had better pay them the same amount we pay ourselves, even though they will in no sense do the same job or the same amount of work. But when I saw that the Government proposed to pay time and one-third to people who, on their own decision, had chosen dual membership, I began to be most unhappy, and that is the reason why I put down the amendments.

When the Minister moved his amendment, he said that the reason why he proposed to pay the dual Members one-third extra was that, unlike their European counterparts, they would have constituency duties. I should have preferred that they did not have constituency duties. The protection of the people of this coun- try within the EEC rests with this House and not with the Assembly. God help us if it ever rests with the Assembly, where we are outnumbered by about five to one.

One of the arguments that the Minister used was that the Members would have constituency duties, because we have organised our elections in a peculiar way. As I understand it, from the time the next elections are held there must be a single form of election. It is required under the Treaty of Rome that by the time the next elections come round we must have an identical form of election, which undoubtedly will be proportional representation. If that is correct, one of the Minister's prime arguments goes out of the window. Will he then propose that dual Members should have no additional remuneration? Perhaps the Minister would like to answer that question when he replies.

Mr. English

My hon. Friend will recollect what I said earlier, that there is no requirement for the next elections to be on a uniform system. There always has been a requirement that after being indirectly elected there should be a uni[...] form electoral law. There are those who believe—I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Mitchell) has a belief of this nature—that the present position of election by individual electoral laws is, in itself, illegal. Of course, there is no way of proving that under the constitution of the European Community.

Mr. Stoddart

No. But the point I was making—I feel sure that my hon. Friend will agree—is that there will be pressure from the Assembly itself to have a uniform form of election. If it came about that we had a uniform type of election and that election was by proportional representation, the argument that the Minister himself used for paying Euro Assemblymen who are dual Members with this House one-third extra would go out of the window. If that happened, would the hon. and learned Gentleman come forward with an amendment getting rid of the time and one-third, if I may put it that way? Perhaps he will enlighten us on the Government's thinking on that aspect.

I should like to say a lot more, but time is getting on and there is a lot more business to be done yet. I therefore conclude by saying that I think that this is a misconceived amendment. I sincerely hope that my hon. Friends and, indeed, other hon. Members will vote against it.

Mr. Russell Johnston

I shall not detain the Committee very long, but I should like to look at one or two of the basic arguments that have been deployed. The argument that the performance of a Member in this House is reduced by virtue of being a Member of the European Parliament seems to be the fundamental argument that had been adduced, from personal experience in the case of the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) and by hearsay from the hon. and learned Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan). In essence, that is what they both said. Indeed, it is what the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Stoddart) has just said. We pay them less, because, so to speak, they will not do a full day's work in either place.

First, I agree entirely with the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden). I do not accept that this is the kind of decision that the House can properly make. It is the kind of decision that the elector should make. Of course, hon. Members should bear in mind my views about our electoral system. But, leaving that aside entirely, I think that the sort of decision about whether a Member is hardworking, full-time, part-time, quarter-time or whatever is not a decision that we here can properly make. Therefore, I think that that invalidates the approach made from both Front Benches.

It is not applied in local government and it was not previously applied in Northern Ireland. Perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman can confirm that. Of course, it does not apply to Ministers. By virtue of being Ministers, it is not said that they are not doing their job in their constituencies. However, some of the candidates who fight these particular seats are from time to time prone to making that kind of remark. However, I do not think that that is something which this House regards as being a proper judgment to make.

Mr. Les Huckfield

The hon. Gentleman said that this principle does not apply in local government. How is it that if a councillor claims his attendance allowances he has to lose a corresponding amount of money that is normally paid in wages from his employer? Surely the principle applies in local government.

Mr. Ogden

I am an ex-member of a certain borough council in the North. There was a time when one claimed not allowances, not expenditure, but for loss of wages. That was changed to an attendance allowance. It was perfectly possible for someone on the night shift, afternoon shift or day shift to do that job as well and get an attendance allowance. I do not say that it is done often, but there is a difference between loss of wages and an attendance allowance.

Mr. Johnston

Leaving aside the seated argument that is raging around me—

Mr. Stoddart

While that is going on may I make this point? The allowance is based on attendance and is so much for a sitting. It was argued that it was up to our constituents to decide whether we were doing the job, and in that context local government was mentioned. In local government we laid down that if a member did not attend meetings for six months he was disqualified from holding office. Members in local government are under much greater constraints than Members of Parliament or of the European Assembly.

Mr. Johnston

If it were widely known that a member had not attended to his business for six months, that would affect his likelihood of re-election, although to what degree might depend on the circumstances in the constituency. My point is that in local government it is widely accepted that people do two jobs—for instance, sitting on the county council and on the city council. No great exception is taken to that, nor is it necessarily argued with the moral rigour that the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury loves to deploy that it represents a diminution in the member's contribution. That is largely a personal and individual matter. In the Highlands of Scotland there is a common saying that if someone wants a job done he should go to the busiest person in the village and ask him to do a bit more. That approach often bears fruit.

We are in a messy situation, as the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury rightly assessed. In my judgment, that is because the previous Administration, supported by the present one, decided that payment should be determined nationally rather than on a European level. There was a majority within the European Council at the time, and France certainly went along with that decision.

Mr. English

It was unanimous.

Mr. Johnston

I am suspicious of public unanimous decisions.

Mr English

It was a private unanimous decision.

Mr. Johnston

Publicly announced. I do not think that it was unanimous in private. In any event, it was a decision in which the previous Administration voluntarily participated and agreed. It is because of that that we are in this messy situation. I agree with the compelling argument adduced by the hon. Member for West Derby that it is fundamentally wrong that people should be paid different wages for the same job. There is no justification for that.

There are signs that the House will reach not only a messy decision but one that is not well founded in principle. That is perhaps not altogether rare, but it does not make it more desirable.

12.15 a.m.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

I spent four years operating the dual mandate, and I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) that this causes some difficulties. The difficulties vary considerably between individuals. However, it is the job of the electorate to decide whether a person is capable of doing two jobs. Personally, I think that the dual mandate is not on, but that is a matter for the electorate. The rule that my party made, debarring the dual mandate, was abominable. I suggest that the party makes another rule now saying that any Member of this House who wishes to stand for the national executive committee of the Labour Party should resign his parliamentary seat before standing. I say that with great respect to my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Huck-field).

Mr. Les Huckfield

I take it that my hon. Friend understands that members of the NEC are already subjected to a process of mandatory reselection annually.

Mr. Mitchell

The real problem is that it is quite impossible for anyone to do a proper job on the NEC and also be a Member of this House. In view of the poor job that the NEC has been doing over the past few years, that is a very strong argument.

It is probably true that a person with a dual mandate allows his work in this House to suffer to some extent. I believe that I did not in any way neglect my constituency, but inevitably I was not here on occasions when I should have been. However, that is not an argument for what is being done now. That would be an argument for paying the full European salary and reducing the British salary, not vice versa.

I find this whole business quite ridiculous. That is why I tried to divide the House on Second Reading, but I could not get another Member to support me in voting against the Bill. The wrong decision was made last year in the Council of Ministers. It should never have made the decision that the salaries of European Members should be paid on a national basis. That was what started all this nonsense. It is utterly absurd that a British Member of the European Parliament should sit next to a German Member who is being paid twice as much or that he should sit next to a Luxembourg Member and be paid one and a half times as much as that Member. That offends every trade union principle that I was brought up to believe in. In fact, that decision by the Council of Ministers was part of a package deal. Other countries agreed to give way on that matter if we would give way on something else. I cannot remember the issue involved, but it was part of a package and it turned out to be a disaster.

The Government must face the fact that they must either pay both the European and British salaries or they must pay only one salary, as was the case in the original Bill. This one and one-third figure is a nonsense. I completely fail to understand how that figure was worked out. What is the rational basis for it? The Front Bench has tried to argue that the one-third in some way compensates the Member for the fact that he has a constituency, but this is irrelevant because all European Members, whether dual-mandate or not, have a constituency. Therefore, there is no reason to pay the dual-mandate Member more than the non-dual-mandate Member. There is no logic in that argument at all.

I shall vote against the Government's amendment today merely because I think that the whole thing is a mess. It tries to give a little in order to stop an argument. It is not based on any principle. It is a shabby compromise, and I hope that the Committee will vote against it.

Mr. Whitehead

I shall be brief. I want to make two points in exemplifying some of the things said by my Labour colleagues, though not always based on the same premises. Unlike some of them, I enthusiastically support the notion that there should be a directly elected European Parliament and that it should be a stronger body, just as I believe that this House should be a stronger body. I believe that the Members of both bodies should be as strong as their democratic mandate justifies and as well informed, well funded and well staffed as possible.

However, there is a problem raised by the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Mitchell). I agree with him that the Labour Party in examining the subject of the dual mandate has made nonsense of it. It was ridiculously restrictive to require Members of Parliament to resign their seats before they could even be candidates for the European Parliament. On the other hand, had they succeeded in being elected in the subsequent elections, as very few on our side did, it might then have been reasonable to say to them "Can you honestly say that you can do these two jobs?" I do not think one can do so by virtue of the time and the distinctions of effort involved.

The Members of the European Assembly will, in the nature of the job, be away from this country for long periods and will be exhausted by the travel and the other arrangements. I see that the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston), who was for so long a Member of the European Assembly, disagrees. What happened to the late Peter Kirk? He was killed by the job. I believe that it is not simple to undertake the job over a long period of time.

Mr. Russell Johnston

I agree that it is not simple. On the other hand, I carried out the job for six years and at the end of that period my majority increased four times. That would indicate that I did not neglect my constituency. I am not saying that it is a tenable job to undertake for ever, but I argue that it is tenable for one parliamentary Session. The hon. Gentleman is being a little superficial in suggesting that it is totally out of the question. It depends on the individual.

Mr. Whitehead

No individual could be more resilient, vigorous, perpetually youthful and eternally popular in his constituency than the hon. Gentleman, and I salute him for that. But he was in the European Parliament at a time when it was trying to find its feet and was a nominated Assembly. It then had no power and was largely ornamental. I hope that the European Assembly of the future will take to itself additional powers, and that will mean taking to itself additional work. [HON. MEMBERS: "Never."] There is always the chorus of "Never" from Labour colleagues, but that will happen and we all know it.

Mr. English

My hon. Friend will realise that I agree with nearly all he said. But can he say why being a Member of the European Assembly would detract more from being a Member of this House than possessing any other job outside the House which we all know our colleagues often possess?

Mr. Whitehead

My hon. Friend must not tempt me into that line of argument because he knows my strong view on the subject. I consider that hon. Members should not have outside employment of any kind. If that is a belief one holds fundamentally, by definition outside employment as a Member of the European Assembly counts as much as a directorship or anything else. By virtue of the time one has to put in at the other place over the sea, it will be more onerous than many of the highly remunerative jobs to which hon. Members of this House rush off to supplement their incomes.

Mr. Ogden

Members of this House have been known to go to far corners of the world to take up complicated cases on behalf of companies, and distance has been no object. We are not arguing whether a person should or should not undertake both jobs. We are arguing about who should decide—this Parliament or the electors. That surely is the key question.

Mr. Whitehead

Of course, any practice can be justified by the notion that the electorate at some time or another—

Mr. Ogden

My hon. Friend should join the Front Bench.

Mr. Whitehead

I am reminded of what I heard in New York when I was a young television producer listening to an indignant radical Negro who was denouncing to a small crowd in Harlem the misdeeds of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell. He listed his various sinecures, his high living, his expense accounts and his womanising. At the back of the audience another Negro shouted out "Man, that's real living!" The trouble is that the electorate often admire the hon. Member who is a bit of a card and who is always swanning around.

It cannot be said that the last word of the electorate is final. We should try to set standards in this place about the work that we do. If it is believed that this is a full-time job, it follows that the dual mandate is not on. If that is so but, at the same time, we have not passed a law saying that it shall not be held, what can be said about the proposals that have been brought before the Committee? We believe in a deterrent theory. There should be a deterrent to people who hold the dual mandate in their own interests and in that of the electorate. That deterrent should be applied by not paying them a second salary for the job.

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)

If the hon. Gentleman believes that the dual mandate is wrong and that hon. Members should have no other activities and employment than their duties as Members of Parliament, does he also believe that it is wrong that Labour Members should be sent here by trade unions to work for them?

Mr. Whitehead

I believe that it is wrong for anyone to be wholly occupied elsewhere, whether by a joint stock company or by a large trade union. There is a growing minority of hon. Members who judge the nature of the work as becoming essentially a full-time job. My hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. Stoddart) pointed out that that is the central argument of Boyle, although my hon. Friend ran away from the logical conclusion. Any outside remuneration and occupation diminishes from what is given to the House. That is why I believe that there should be a deterrent and that we should not pay the second salary to European Members, to prevent people seeking the dual mandate in future.

Mr. Russell Johnston

Does the hon. Gentleman's argument lead him to agree with those countries which say that once a Member of Parliament becomes a Minister he should cease to be a Member of Parliament?

Mr. Whitehead

This matter was touched upon in an intervention by the hon. Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe (Mr. Brown). In the function of a Minister and that of a Member of Parliament there is no necessary contradiction. An hon. Member who is the chairman of a Committee in this place may have functions at least as onerous as a Minister of State in the Government of the day, and he is not precluded by virtue of his activities here from being an effective representative of his constituents, because those duties take place within the same assembly. That is the point that the hon. Member for Inverness should take on board.

12.30 a.m.

I must pursue the nonsense of building the one-third principle into severance pay. It is ridiculous to suggest that we should pay a Member of the European Assembly who is defeated in a European election one-third of the parliamentary severance pay, even though he continues to be in full-time employment as an hon. Member drawing £12,000 a year.

That is as much nonsense as it would be if we gave double severance pay to a Minister who lost his occupation or, as happened to my good friend Shirley Williams recently, his occupation and constituency. Although the salary received by a Minister is much greater than that received by an hon. Member there is no suggestion that Ministers should receive additional severance pay. I see no reason why additional public funds should be paid to someone who is in receipt of £12,000 a year from the taxpayer anyway. I do not believe that the Minister can justify that.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment proposed:No. 2, in page 1, line 7, leave out subsections (2) and (3) and insert—

Question accordingly agreed to.

The Second Deputy Chairman

Does the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Stoddart) wish to move amendment No. 27?

Mr. Stoddart

Yes, Mr. Crawshaw.

Mr. English

On a point of order, Mr. Crawshaw. I am aware that you said that (1A) The yearly rate of the salary payable to a Representative for any period shall be—

  1. (a) in the case of a period not within paragraph (b) , the same as that of a Member's ordinary salary for that period;
  2. (b) in the case of a period for which a salary is payable to him pursuant to any resolution or combination of resolutions of the House of Commons relating to the remuneration of Members, a rate equal to one-third of that of a Member's ordinary salary for that period.".—[Mr. Brittan.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided : Ayes 100, Noes 20.

Division No. 59] AYES [12.32 a.m.
Alexander, Richard Garel-Jones, Tristan Osborn, John
Aspinwall, Jack Gorst, John Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Berry, Hon Anthony Gow, Ian Parris, Matthew
Best, Keith Gower, Sir Raymond Pollock, Alexander
Bevan, David Gilroy Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Rathbone, Tim
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hawkins, Paul Rhodes James, Robert
Bright, Graham Hawksley, Warren Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Brinton, Timothy Heddle, John Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Brittan, Leon Hicks, Robert Silvester, Fred
Brooke, Hon Peter Hogg, Hon Douglas (Grantham) Sims, Roger
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'thorpe) Hooson, Tom Speller, Tony
Bruce-Gardyne, John Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Squire, Robin
Buck, Antony Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Stevens, Martin
Budgen, Nick Lawson, Nigel Stewart, John (East Renfrewshire)
Bulmer, Esmond Lee, John Stradling Thomas, J.
Cadbury, Jocelyn Le Marchant, Spencer Tebbit, Norman
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Lester, Jim (Beeston) Thompson, Donald
Chapman, Sydney Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Thornton, George
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Lyell Nicholas Trippier, David
Colvin, Michael Macfariane, Neil Viggers, Peter
Cope, John Major, John Wakeham, John
Corrie, John Marlow, Antony Waldegrave, Hon William
Cranborne, Viscount Mather, Carol Waller, Gary
Dean, Paul (North Somerset) Mawhinney, Dr Brian Ward, John
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Watson, John
Dorrell, Stephen Mellor, David Wheeler, John
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Meyer, Sir Anthony Wickenden, Keith
Dover, Denshore Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove & Redditch) Williams, Delwyn (Montgomery)
Faith, Mrs Sheila Mills, lain (Meriden) Wolfson, Mark
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Fisher, Sir Nigel Murphy, Christopher
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Myles, David TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Forman, Nigel Neubert, Michael Mr. John MacGregor and
Fox, Marcus Newton, Tony Mr. David Waddington.
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Onslow, Cranley
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Stoddart, David
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) McCartney, Hugh Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Cook, Robin F. McKay, Allen (Penistone) Whitehead, Phillip
Cryer, Bob Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Whitlock, William
Cunningham, George (Islington S) Prescott, John
Davis, Terry (B'rm'ham, Stechford) Rooker, J. W. TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Dormand, J. D. Skinner, Dennis Mr. Nigel Spearing and
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Smith, Cyril (Rochdale) Mr. Les Huckfield.

amendment No. 26 had fallen, but you did not say at the time that amendment No. 24 had fallen. There are those of us who think that to pay a Member 75 per cent. of the salary that he should receive would be better than paying him only one-third of it.

The Second Deputy Chairman

The other amendments in the group have fallen on amendment No. 2 having been agreed.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

On a point of order, Mr. Crawshaw. I thought that at the beginning we discussed having a separate Division on amendment No. 19.

The Second Deputy Chairman

When we reach it, perhaps the hon. Gentleman will bring the matter up again.

Mr. Ogden

Further to that point of order, Mr. Crawshaw. Amendment No. 5, in my name, comes well before amendment No. 19. Is it possible at least for a decision be made on that?

The Second Deputy Chairman

That has fallen as well on amendment No. 2 being agreed.

Mr. Stoddart

I beg to move amendment No. 27, in clause 1, page 1, line 13. at end insert— (3A) Any Assembly Member receiving outside remuneration in excess of £2,000 per annum shall have deducted from his annual salary half of the excess, but such deductions shall not exceed £3,800.'. The arguments were pretty well rehearsed in the previous debate, so I shall not delay the Committee long, but I should like to make the following point. The European Assembly meets on many fewer occasions than does this House, and the opportunities for Members of the Assembly to undertake other work and be able to draw other salaries will consequently be much greater.

12.45 a.m.

I remind the Committee that when we discussed hon. Members' salaries last Wednesday this amendment was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead) and it obtained a fair degree of support from the House. In those circumstances, it is right and proper that a similar amendment should be tabled in relation to the salaries of European Assembly Members. I hope that the amendment will be supported.

Mr. English

I wonder whether the Minister will tell us one thing in his reply. Since he is now advocating that someone who holds an outside job should be paid only one-third of the salary, will he, when he returns to his former employment at the Bar—and no doubt he will—accept only one-third of the fee marked on each brief?

Mr. Brittan

I do not think that the question asked by the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) in any way relates to the Bill, and I do not propose to answer it. I propose to make it quite clear that the Government do not accept the argument behind the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Stoddart). He referred to the fact that a comparable amendment was raised last week in the debates on Members' pay. That may have been so, but it was firmly defeated by the House and no effect was given to the principle for which the hon. Gentleman now seeks to argue. It would be quite illogical for us to seek to insert it in this legaslation, having rejected it last week.

I ask the Committee not to accept the amendment.

Amendment negatived

Amendment made: No. 6, in page 1, line 14, leave out 'Subject to subsection (3) '.—[Mr. Brittan]

Mr. Ogden

I beg to move amendment No. 8, in page 1, line 18, leave out from ' period to ' and ' in line 1 on page 2 and insert: ' beginning with the day of his election '. The Government propose that the principle—if that word can be used to describe any part of the Bill—should be that so far as possible the salary of the European Representative should be based upon that of the British Member of Parliament. Amendments Nos. 7, 8 and 9 are an attempt to bring together those arrangements more closely.

Over the years the salary of a British Member of Parliament has been paid from the day of the election—not from the recall or calling of Parliament—until the date of the next general election. The purpose of these amendments is to try to bring the European situation into line with that. There may be technical reasons why this is not possible, but I hope that the Minister and my hon. Friends will he able to agree that we should aim for this principle in the European Assembly.

Mr. George Cunningham

The proposal is that instead of being paid from 49 minutes ago—that is, the date of the first meeting of the European Parliament—Members of the European Parliament should be paid from the date of their election early in June. Although, on the face of it, that may seem to make sense to those accustomed to the way we do things for ourselves in the House of Commons, I would hope to convince my hon. Friend that there is a perfectly proper reason for doing it in the way provided by the Bill.

First, the Act under which the direct elections take place provides that Members of the European Parliament will take office from the day of the first meeting of the European Parliament. Secondly, during the period from 7 June until today, Members of the European Parliament have been delegated from this House and from the House of Lords. Those Members, a small number of whom, including myself, are here tonight, have been attending one or two meetings during the period from 7 June until 16 July. It would be wrong in principle for public funds to be used to remunerate one group of Members as Members of the European Parliament during that time and also another group of Members as Members during that time.

I accept that one or two other States in the Community have done this. They have provided for salaries under national legislation to be paid either from the date of the election or from the date of some formal acceptance of the election by the candidate. I suggest that the better principle is that enshrined in the Bill, which is that the new members take office and therefore draw their salaries from today, the first meeting of the new Parliament. On balance, I recommend my hon. Friends not to support the amendment but to support the Bill as it stands.

Mr. English

I wonder whether the Minister of State, when he replies, will explain whether this clause applies to my own Member of the European Assembly, the one in whose constituency I reside when in London. Miss Roberts seems to have ignored the publication normally sent to members of the Labour Party by Transport House and to members of the Conservative Party by Central Office. It is the publication giving information on the posts from which one should resign before standing for election. Her agent also appears to have ignored the publication, although he will no doubt be dealt with as an employee of the Conservative Party.

Mr. George Cunningham

The ratepayers still have to pay.

Mr. English

I am not sure about the ratepayers. My hon. Friend is causing me to deviate. I think that the Home Office has to pay, which means that the taxpayer has to pay about £200,000.

The question is whether or not Miss Roberts will be paid from the date she purported to be elected. There has been great lack of clarity. She issued a press statement saying that she had to resign because of a technicality. One cannot resign from something unless one was elected. I do not believe that holding an office of profit under the Crown is a technicality. That is, however, what she said in her press statement. If she is resigning, she has been elected. She is therefore, presumably, paid up to the time that she resigned. Either that or she may not have been telling the truth, in which case she may never have been elected. Does the clause apply in this case or not?

Mr. Russell Johnston

The hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) rejected this amendment principally on the argument that on this occasion there is an overlap. The appointed Members, as the hon. Gentleman pointed out, continued to be appointed until yesterday. The appointed Members, such as he and I, continued to be recognised as Members of the European Parliament at the same time as there were elected Members. That may be true in this case, but, as far as I know, it will never happen again. The hon. Gentleman's argument is surely not an argument of substance. This is a unique moment of transfer from appointment to election. It will never happen again, and this is, therefore, not a good argument in itself.

My second point relates to the preparatory work of the Assembly. I can speak only from the experience of the Liberal group, although I imagine that the experience of the other groups has been the same. Last week, the members of the Liberal group met to discuss the allocation of committees, who would do what, and the rest of it—in other words, the business of being a Member of the European Parliament. It is not very logical that they should gather to do this work and not be paid for it. But so much of the Bill does not seem very logical. So, with respect to the hon Member for Islington, South and Finsbury, for those two reasons his commendation to the Committee is not well based.

Mr. Brittan

I deal first with the comments of the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) about the possibility of a future overlap. That does not arise. Now that the Members are elected, their period in office ends on the day before the opening of the first session of the next directly elected Parliament and not on the date of the next election.

Mr. Graham Page

Does that mean that after the next election the Members who are not elected at that election will continue to be paid until the first day of the Assembly after that?

Mr. Brittan

It means just that, because they continue to hold office until the newly elected Members take their seats. That is the procedure prescribed in the Act annexed to the decision of the Council of Ministers.

As for the point made by the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English), the position is that the first session of the directly elected Parliament commences on 17 July and therefore, under the provision as unamended, salaries would commence from that date. Therefore, anyone who has resigned or in any way ceased being a Member of the Assembly or has not become one prior to that date would not receive a salary.

I come, then, to the main argument. I have no doubt that the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) will take a great deal more from the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) than he would from me. Therefore, it is perhaps appropriate that the argument in favour of the present arrangements in the Bill should have been deployed by the hon. Gentleman. I concur wholly with his argument, and, therefore, I cannot commend this amendment to the Committee.

Mr. Ogden

The hon. and learned Gentleman thought that I would take a little more from my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) than I would from him. It all depends what is on offer. When I see the relationship which is developing between the two Front Benches, I am in some difficulty.

When I was elected to this place, I was a coal miner. On the day I was elected, I stopped being an employee of the National Coal Board and I began to be promised a salary from this Parliament. Other people outside of my own political persuasion were elected to the European Assembly some months ago. Are they to tell their employers "I want to go to Europe to set up the Parliament. I want to get all these matters moving. But I still want you to pay my wages "? They are in this vacuum. In this Parliament we decide from election to election, and I think that that is the simplest course to adopt.

I was grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury for his information. It would have been even better if he had taken the opportunity to give it to me earlier, bearing in mind that my amendment has been on the Notice Paper for the past 10 days. After all, we still speak to each other, even though he is on the Front Bench and I am back here. That information would have been useful.

Mr. George Cunningham

Such information was given to those of us who discussed these matters a few days ago.

Mr. Ogden

Perhaps one of these days I shall join the charmed circle. It is interesting to hear one of my own Front Benchers say that this information has been discussed. It may be my own fault for not joining that discussion, but I think it would have been courteous to pass it on to me.

I have no intention of pressing the amendment. Some sympathy has been expressed for my point of view. One can buy nothing with sympathy, but perhaps someone else will look at the matter again later.

1 a.m.

Mr. English

I did not get an answer to my question. Surely it is relevant when a former chairman of the Conservative annual conference has wasted £200,000 of taxpayers' money and the time of innumerable electors. Was she elected and did she resign, or did she not get elected in the first place—in either case, apparently, because of her own inefficiency?

Amendment negatived.

Amendments made: No. 11, in page 2, line 17, leave out ' rate ' and insert rates '.

No. 12, in page 2, line 18, leave out '(2)' and insert (1A)'.—[Mr. Brittan.]

Clause 1, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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