HC Deb 22 January 1980 vol 977 cc183-4
5. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the future work of the Clegg commission.

Mr. Prior

The Standing Commission on Pay Comparability has a number of outstanding references, and the Government are continuing to keep the commission's work under review.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

My right hon. Friend has told the House that we all have an obligation to reduce unemployment where we can. Will he make a start by sending this ageing Marxist back to Warwick university to muddle the heads of students there? Surely the commission exists, was appointed, and can exist, for but one purpose, which is to add to unemployment and to inflation. Therefore, will he please terminate it as soon as possible?

Mr. Prior

I do not agree with my hon. Friend's remarks about Professor Clegg. We are keeping the commission under review. It has a number of unfinished tasks to perform, and the time to decide its future will be when it has completed them.

Mr. Race

Does the Secretary of State agree that the evidence that the Government gave recently to the Clegg com- mission has placed the commission in an entirely new situation in that they have said that the commission ought not to take account of historical comparisons in determining levels of pay, and that the going rate for the pay round in question, or the economy in general, is no longer to be regarded by the commission as a proper method of determining levels of pay for the groups of workers being considered by it?

Will the right hon. Gentleman give the House an assurance that the instruction from the Government to the commission will be reviewed at an early date?

Mr. Prior

The Government have been right to give evidence to the commission. The hon. Gentleman's question bears out the difficulties of comparability exercises. If we are not careful we shall merely enter the circularity of comparing one set of figures with another set of figures created by the same people. We should be careful about the evidence given and the views expressed to the commission.

Mr. David Price

As there is no entirely scientific measure of what any differential should be, does my right hon. Friend agree that even under conditions of free collective bargaining it is useful to have some machinery, such as the Clegg commission, available when it is agreed by the parties to refer to it?

Mr. Prior

I do not think that there is any unanimity on the matter. It would be better, in a pragmatic way, to say that we had better see how we proceed.