HC Deb 14 January 1980 vol 976 cc1197-8
32. Mr. Whitehead

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he will publish part 2 of the Boyle report relating to payment of Members' secretaries and research assistants.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas)

The exact timing of the submission of the report is a matter for the review body itself, but I can say that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister hopes to receive it soon.

Mr. Whitehead

Is the Lord President aware that most of us who gave evidence to Boyle about the conditions and pay of hon. Members, also gave evidence about secretaries and research assistants? Is he further aware that it would be intolerable if in mid-1979 hon. Members were seen to take substantial increases whilst simultaneously ignoring the plight of secretaries and research assistants? Does he agree that we should not short-change those who provide an essential service to the House and to the British public?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I am glad to join the hon. Member in paying tribute to the work done by secretaries for Members of the House, which has been recognised, in part only, by an interim award given at the time of the review of Members' salaries. The review body is considering the level of secretarial salaries and related issues. As soon as we have those recommendations, along with the other recommendations of the review body, we shall give them most urgent consideration and come before the House with recommendations.

Mr. Foulkes

Is the Lord Privy Seal aware that secretaries, research assistants and hon. Members presently work in intolerable conditions within the Palace of Westminster? Will he seek to convince his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that unless something is done immediately there will be a revolt among hon. Members because they find it impossible to do the work that they were elected to do on behalf of their constituents?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I have considerable sympathy with that point. It is true that the conditions under which hon. Members work would not be tolerated by equivalent persons in commerce or industry. However, at a time of financial stringency we must make our contribution to the general welfare and I cannot hold out early hopes for any radical improvement. We shall do our best with what we have.