HC Deb 21 July 1980 vol 989 cc161-93
Mr. Speaker

Before I call the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to move his motion, it may be for the convenience of the House if I explain the course that we shall follow in the light of the business motion to which the House agreed this afternoon.

The debate on the first of the five motions before the House—those numbered 2 to 6 on the Order Paper—can continue for four hours, and during the course of it it will be open to any hon. Member to discuss all the other motions and amendments which stand on the Order Paper.

At the end of the debate I shall call upon hon. Members to move formally any amendments to motion No. 2 which are shown on the selection list. When any such amendments have been disposed of, I shall put the main Question, or the main Question as amended. I shall then call upon the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to move formally motion No. 3, to which no amendments are selected, and then motion No. 4. When he has done so, hon. Members whose amendments to motion No. 4 have been selected will be invited successively to move them formally. When those amendments have been disposed of, the main Question, as amended or not amended, will be put.

There are no amendments to motions Nos. 5 and 6, so I shall call upon the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to move them formally in succession, and I shall put the Question to them.

Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South and Finsbury)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You indicated that after motion No. 2 had been disposed of you would call upon the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to move motion No. 3, to which no amendments have been selected, because no private Member would be in order in moving an amendment to that motion—at least, in an upward direction.

Perhaps it should be understood that we presume that if the first motion—the expression of opinion motion—is amend- ed the Government will, of course, take the initiative to make a corresponding amendment to the effective motion—that is, the one in the name of the Leader of the House as the effective motion No. 3.

Mr. Eric Ogden (Liverpool, West Derby)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You were good enough to indicate that hon. Members might discuss any amendment or motion on the Order Paper referring to this business. I happen to be in the unenviable position of having on the Order Paper five amendments none of which has been selected. It does not happen often, thank goodness. Would it be in order for me or for anyone else who happens to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, to refer to the amendments on the Order Paper, or only to those which have been selected?

Mr. Speaker

The point of order raised from the Opposition Front Bench by the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) is really a point which the Leader of the House will probably answer in his speech.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden), with his five amendments, does not know the sorrow that the matter caused me. If he catches my eye, he will be free to speak to them, but he will not have an opportunity to vote upon them.

Mr. Roger Moate (Faversham)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As the arguments on the subject are not unfamiliar to both sides of the House, would it be in order to suggest that we take the votes now and have the debate afterwards?

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Speaker

I thought a little earlier that I was being made to earn my increase before I received it.

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

May I first answer the point that has been raised by the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham)? If the first motion is amended, it will not be the intention of the Government to press ahead with the substantive motion.

We would have to withdraw it and consider what should be done, because the Queen's Recommendation has not been

That, in the opinion of this House, the following provisions about salaries and pensions of Members of this House should be made: -
(1) The salary payable to Members of each of the descriptions in the first column of the following Table-
5 (a) in respect of service on and after 13th June 1980 and before 13th June 1981 shall be at the yearly rate specified in relation to that description in the second column of that Table; and
(b) in respect of service on and after 13th June 1981 shall be at the yearly rate specified in relation to that description in the third column of that Table.
Description of Member Yearly rate of salary from 13th June 1980 to 12th June 1981 Yearly rate of salary from 13th June 1981
£ £
15 1. Member not within paragraph 2. 11,750 13,150
2. Member or Officer of this House receiving a salary under the Ministerial and Other Salaries Act 1975 or a pension under section 26 of the Parlia-20 mentary and Other Pensions Act 1972. 6,930 7,670
(2) The ordinary salary of every Member in respect of service on and after 13th June 1980 shall be regarded for pension purposes as being at the rate of £ 13,150.
25 (3) Any Member, except one in whose case no deduction is required to be made under section 3 or 4 of the Act of 1972, shall be credited by way of supplement to his salary payable in respect of service on or after 13th June 1980 and before 13th June 1981, with amounts at the yearly rate of £ 84.

As everyone in the House knows, fixing the right rate of salary for Members of Parliament is a difficult matter. It is essentially a question of balance. On the one hand, Members certainly ought to be properly remunerated for the work they do. On the other hand, because of our position in the public eye, we need to give a lead to the country at large.

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear in her statement on 7 July, the Government's overriding economic priority is to reduce inflation, and in order to do this we need to achieve and keep to our monetary targets. As she said, unless the growth of earnings is broadly consistent with the rate of monetary growth, the fall in inflation will be accompanied by a larger rise in unemployment.

That is why the level of pay increases in the public sector must be reduced, as is already happening in the private sector. If Parliament does not give a lead now, the example could be severely prejudicial to the climate in which the next pay round is conducted.

signified to an amended motion but only to the motion. I hope that that clears up the point.

I beg to move,

It is the Government's view that a positive lead could best be given by Members accepting a pay increase somewhat lower than that recommended by the Top Salaries Review Body. Although, of course, the final decision on this matter rests with the House, I wish to put it to Members that a degree of self-denial on our part is the most responsible line to take.

Mr. Andrew Faulds (Warley, East)

Is the situation not simply that the Prime Minister and the right hon. Gentleman are abusing the devotion and concern to their parliamentary duties of Opposition Members, because, as he is well aware, most of those on his Back Benches have a multiplicity of directorships, which remove them—[Interruption.]—from dependence—[Interruption.]—on a single parliamentary salary?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I regret that the hon. Member has injected that somewhat partisan note into the debate. This is a matter which concerns—[Interruption.] I have never had a directorship in my life. No one has ever offered me one, so I have never been put to any temptation I am fully aware that some Members will feel let down. I respect their feelings, but I must repeat what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in her statement on 7 July: the Government must have regard to their wider commitment to propose what they believe to be right in the battle against inflation.

I should like briefly to remind the House of the background to this year's proposals on Members' pay, as it is fairly complex. In 1979 the review body recommended a salary of £ 12,000 for those Members who were not Ministers or other office-holders. The Government accepted that figure, but because the existing salary was only £ 6,897 we felt that the increase was too great to be paid in one go. It was, therefore, agreed by the House that the new salary should be introduced in three stages. The first stage was paid last year, giving Members a salary of £ 9,450. The second stage of £ 10,725 came into payment on 13 June this year, and the third and final stage is due to be paid on 13 June 1981. The recommendations of the review body this year were that both the second and third stages should be increased by 14-6 per cent. The Government think it right to ask hon. Members to settle for a smaller figure. We are, therefore, inviting the House to approve a motion providing for a salary of £ 11,750 from 13 June 1980, and of £ 13,150 from 13 June 1981, an increase of 96 per cent. on the second and third stages respectively.

Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I shall give way, but I should like to finish this background description first.

We have also agreed that the review body should be asked to review next year's third stage increase of hon. Members' pay to £ 13,150.

Mr. Johnston

What evidence does the Leader of the House have that pay restraint on the part of hon. Members would have any effect on any other pay increase in the absence of an incomes policy?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I do not say that an example by the House alone can solve our inflation problem. However, if the House does not set some sort of example to the nation, any chance that we may have of succeeding in our anti-inflation policy will be doomed to failure from the start.

Mr. Jack Straw (Blackburn)


Mr. St. John-Stevas

The Government will implement the result of the third stage review, unless there are clear and compelling reasons for not doing so.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)

Does not the Leader of the House recollect that he gave an assurance to that effect last year and that the Prime Minister wrote to Lord Boyle on 30 July 1979 saying: It is out intention to accept and implement the recommendations you make. There was no qualification to that. Why should we believe the right hon. Gentleman now?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

The hon. Gentleman has made a fair point, which I accept. I do not deny, any more than my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister denies, that that pledge was given. But it was given 12 months ago. The situation since then has altered, and the Government have to review the position in the light of events since then. It is for the House to decide on that issue. I am here to request Members to accept the arguments I am putting. The figures will be voted by the House. I can put it no higher than that. The hon. Gentleman is entitled to point to the pledges that we gave. I agree with that.

The restraint we are seeking from the House on Members' pay ought also to apply to allowances and, of course, to Ministers' pay. We propose, therefore, that the secretarial and research assistance allowance should be increased by 9-6 per cent. to £ 7,400 with effect from 13 June 1980. We are proposing for members of the Cabinet and my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General an increase of only 5 per cent. excluding the parliamentary salary, and of 9-6 per cent. for other Ministers and paid office-holders. Junior Ministers in the House of Lords do not receive any salary specifically for their parliamentary duties. We believe that to be a serious problem and we are considering the best way to deal with it. We shall bring forward proposals as soon as posible.

I turn now to the various individual motions. As hon. Members will have noted, the first two are broadly similar. Both deal with Members' salaries and pensions, but the first is an expression of opinion which the House can amend, whereas the second is subject to the Queen's Recommendation. Hon. Members may recall that this procedure is necessary when dealing with their pay and pensions and derives from the fact that an effective resolution of the House to increase Members' pay automatically leads to an increase in Exchequer contributions to the pension fund. Accordingly, any motion or amendment leading to such an increase formally requires the Queen's Recommendation. If the motion framed as an expression of opinion finds favour with the House, the effective motion will be moved immediately afterwards. If the first motion does not find favour, the subsequent motion will not be moved.

Mr. George Cunningham

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said a few moments ago that if the first motion is amended that is a decision for the House to take, and that if the House votes for something different from what the Government want it will be the House's decision that takes place. In that case, why do the Government, if there is an amendment to the first motion, have to take the second motion away? Why do not the Government simply move—I should have thought that the Chair would be willing to accept it—the same amendment to the second one as will have been passed to the first one?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I do not think that procedurally that would be possible. I shall certainly consider the hon. Gentleman's suggestion because, as I have made clear, on this matter it is the wish of the House that decides the issue. That has always been the case, and it is the case today.

The first paragraph of the two motions increases the pay of ordinary Members to £ 11,750 from 13 June 1980 and £ 13,150 from 13 June 1981. It also increases the parliamentary pay of Ministers and other office holders to £ 6,930 from 13 June 1980 and to £ 7,670 in 1981. There is an element of rationalisation here. There are currently three separate rates of parliamentary salary for Ministers—a result of the previous Government's pay policy. As there is no justification for different rates and the Review Body recommended a single rate, we are proposing £ 6,930 for all Ministers and office holders.

Paragraph (2) ensures that the increased third stage rate of £ 13,150 will be used for pension purposes and paragraph (3) lays down the supplement payable to cover the 6 per cent. pension contribution on the difference between actual and pensionable pay. For ministerial salaries the corresponding supplement is provided for in a resolution made by the House on 11 July 1979, which still stands.

An amendment on the Order Paper seeks to increase the rate of pay for pension purposes. The Government strongly urge its rejection on these grounds; to accept it would place Members of this House in the invidious position of treating themselves more generously than senior members of the Civil Service and the other public services—[Hon. Members: "Oh."]—who are being treated under the Government's decision on the Boyle report on their pay.

There is the further point that this amendment would put the pension figure above the notional final salary figure for the first time. In the past, while we have accepted that the pension figure should be higher than the staged increase so that those retiring should not suffer from the staging, there has never been a case where the pension figure has been higher than the actual notional figure of the salary. It would cause considerable problems if that discrepancy were to arise.

Mr. Michael English (Nottingham, West)

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are several Clerks of the House now living whose pensions exceed the present salary of the present Clerk of the House? Is he also aware that it is not relevant to compare us with the rest of the Civil Service? Most of us do not start in our twenties, so perhaps he would care to compare us with judges whose pensions accrue over 15 years. On that basis we are much worse treated.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I was not making a general comparison with the Civil Service. I was making a comparison within the Government's response to the Boyle recommendations. There is an equity in the recommendations between civil servants and hon. Members of this House, both of whom have had the Boyle recommendations proportionately reduced.

The third motion increases the limit on the secretarial and research assistance allowance to £ 7,270 for the year ending 31 March 1981 and £ 7,400 for a full year. The House voted on 4 March for an additional sum of 10 per cent. of the existing secretarial allowance to be made available to provide pensions for Members' employees. The Government have accepted the views of the House on this matter and in the current motion on the secretarial allowance the amount payable to provide for employees' pensions has been increased so that it remains 10 per cent. of the main allowance. Certain hon. Members have asked me to confirm that the money for employees' pensions is indeed additional to the money which may be provided for secretarial and research assistance, and I am happy to clarify and confirm that point.

Mr. Terence Higgins (Worthing)

Can my right hon. Friend clarify one point? Leaving the question of pensions for members' secretaries on one side, am I correct in thinking that the Government's proposal, in effect, limits the increase in the secretarial allowance to 9-6 per cent.? If that is so, can my right hon. Friend explain why our secretaries are being asked to set an example to the nation, and how that compares with the increase proposed for Civil Service secretaries?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Secretarial and ministerial salaries are different, but they are not necessarily perceived as such in the country at large. I am afraid that that is a fact. Although it may not be justified, the public link those two salaries and regard them as connected. That is why it is essential to have a common approach to both these problems.

The fourth motion increases the—

Mr. Higgins rose

Hon. Members

Give way.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I have given way a great deal, and I must press on. The fourth motion [Interruption]—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Minister does not appear to be giving way.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I shall give way to my right hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Sir J. Eden).

Sir John Eden (Bournemouth, West)

In view of my right hon. Friend's remarks, would it not be fairer and more honourable to revert to the previous position where secretarial and research remunerations were separate?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

That was the original recommendation. It was in response to representations from hon. Members in different parts of the House that I amalgamated them because it was for the convenience of hon. Members. I made that change in accordance with the wishes of the House.

Mr. Higgins

I am grateful—

Mr. Speaker

Order. It was to me that the Minister gave way.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I did give way to you, Mr. Speaker, but as I have sat down I shall give way to my right hon Friend the Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins).

Mr. Higgins

I am doubly grateful to my right hon. Friend. Will he now answer my second, point? If our secretaries' allowances are to be limited to 9-6 per cent. in the way that he suggested, will he say, in the Estimates now before us and for which he will ask our approval, what will be the increase in the pay of civil servants' secretaries?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I cannot answer that question without notice. I shall endeavour to find out the exact reply and or if I am able to catch Mr. Speaker's eye again to reply to any points, that is one with which I shall deal.

The fourth motion increases the winding-up allowance made towards defraying the expenses of secretarial assistance required in connection with parliamentary duties after a person has ceased to be a Member of the House. At present the allowance is limited to £ 500, and in the case of a deceased Member is paid only on the authorisation of his or her personal representative, which can take as long as six months to obtain. The motion increases the limit of the allowance to one-sixth of the secretarial allowance and permits payment under the arrangements approved by Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker's special committee on the winding-up allowance has recommended that authorisation to pay should be obtained from the appropriate party Whip's Office, which would be required to complete a form of nomination. The Government accept the proposed arrangements. It is a small, but important point. I have come across a great number of cases where distress has been caused because secretaries have been unable to be paid for a considerable time. We want a procedure that can be easily brought into operation to minimise the distress that is inevitably caused to everyone concerned at such a moment.

The final motion seeks approval of a draft Order in Council to implement increases in Ministers' and office holders' salaries. Ministers are not yet in receipt of the second stage of their 1979 increases, so the order brings those into effect as well as updating them by 5 per cent. for Cabinet Ministers and 96 per cent. for other Ministers, as I have already mentioned. The order also makes provision for the updated third stage salaries to be paid with effect from 13 June 1981 and to be used for pension purposes, as for Back Bench Members.

I have said that Cabinet Ministers will get a 5 per cent. increase. That is not entirely accurate because the Prime Minister and the Lord Chancellor have decided not to draw a salary above that of other Cabinet Ministers, which means that they will receive increases well below 5 per cent.

Those are our proposals. I know that they are not good news to all Members of the House. I know that some Members are severely critical of them. I am grateful to the House for the courteous hearing that it has given me. I urge the House to support the measures. They might not be as generous as some hon. Members had hoped, but I believe that in the wider perspective of the interests of the nation as a whole they are the right recommendations. I commend the Government's proposals to the House.

10.55 pm
Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South and Finsbury)

One feels like saying "Here we are again", because we have been through this debate and this subject regularly every year for many years. The nature of the discussion does not change much over the years. It is a subject that should be discussed in a serious and non-partisan way, because we are discusssing how much we should pay ourselves not only as a financial matter but as matter that goes close to the heart of how our democracy works and particularly the relationship between the legislature and the Executive.

In the last year there has been an interesting change in the attitude expressed by some of the media on this subject. Of course, some of the media continue to indulge in straight and blatant criticism of any rise in the remuneration that we vote ourselves. However, other newspapers have, in the past year recognised that this annual painstaking exercise is not conducive to the good government of the country and that we should find some method of settling the matter other than by a debate of this kind taking place with this degree of acrimony each year.

That view was expressed, for example, by the Evening News a week or two back, by The Guardian, by The Economist and by other newspapers which in the past have not expressed that view. In spite of the change of view by some newspapers, inevitably there will be criticism of whatever we decide tonight.

Let us at the start get some of the facts straight so that even some of the journalists can understand—even if they do not bring themselves to print them. In 1964 it was decided that the appropriate remuneration for Members of Parliament should be £ 3,250. If that figure is uprated to take account of price inflation the present salary of Members would be over £ 15,000. No one is suggesting that we adopt a figure of over £ 15,000 tonight.

If we take the figure of £ 4,500 that was chosen in 1972 and uprate it, that produces a figure of over £ 14,000. Again, no-one is suggesting that figure. If we take the 1975 Boyle recommendation of £ 8,000 and uprate that, the figure is over £ 15,000.

The result is that the Boyle recommendation of £ 12,300—even more, the Government's recommendation of £ 11,700—constitutes a reduction of about 20 per cent. in the real value of the salary as decided on three occasions in the last 16 years. The remuneration of Members of Parliament is, therefore, proposed to be about 20 per cent. lower in real terms than was decided at three periods in the last 16 years.

Mr. Alan Clark (Plymouth, Sutton)

I do not know why the hon. Gentleman has taken 1964 as a base line. The figures which he has used are net of the large allowances that we receive today. In 1964 the allowances did not exist.

Mr. Cunningham

It is appalling that the hon. Gentleman should adopt that argument. It is even more appalling that the Prime Minister should have adopted it a few weeks ago when she made her announcement. The effect of the allowances that have been introduced and increased over the years is to permit hon. Members to pay for greater assistance for themselves in doing their job. That is the only proper use of those allowances. It is entirely wrong to say that because we have access to a certain amount of money in order to finance a secretary, that constitutes part of the remuneration of Members.

Mr. John Bruce-Gardyne (Knutsford)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Cunningham

Although this debate may run for four hours, most of us are anxious that it should not necessarily do so. Other hon. Members will have more chance of entering the debate if I do not give way every half minute. All these points can come up in the debate.

I have pointed out that, by comparison with the rise in prices, the salary of Members has fallen considerably. If one takes the rise in earnings, the position is even more stark. Again taking 1964, which I adopt because it happens to be one of the dates when a new decision was made on these matters, the rise in earnings generally since then has been about six-and-a-half-fold. The rise in the remuneration of Members of Parliament has been about three-and-a-half-fold. Earnings generally have risen six and a half times. Salaries of Members of Parliament have risen three and a half times. Those are the basic facts. No one can possibly say that over the years Members of Parliament have failed to give an example in restraint to the remainder of the country.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

The hon. Gentleman is overlooking some aspects of the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Mr. Clark). He referred to the services to enable hon. Members to do their job.

However, in 1964 hon. Members did not receive a petrol allowance. [Hon. Members: "Yes, they did."] They did not receive a petrol allowance in their constituencies, or a living away allowance. We have to consider that we are determining what tax the remainder of the community should pay. We should bear in mind the fact that we do not enhance our authority in making those choices if the proportion—[Hon. Members: "Speech."]—of the total receipts that we get, which are free of tax, is deemed to be constantly increasing.

Mr. Cunningham

So far as there is any validity in that point—and that is not very far at all—it should have been made in the hon. Gentleman's own speech. He is mistaken about fact. Free travel to the House and in a Member's constituency was part of the facilities of a Member at that time.

In discussing the matter, I believe that we should try to be calm and to distill some principles to guide us in reaching our decision. A first principle in deciding what should be paid as salary to a Member of Parliament is that we do not want to attract people into the House for the money. We are not in danger of doing that. A second principle is that we should not put off good people, who would otherwise wish to be active in politics, because of the money.

I know that the right hon. Member for Down. South (Mr. Powell) constantly argues that because there is no shortage of people who wish to stand as candidates for Parliament there is no need to make the increase that might be proposed by Lord Boyle. If that were the only principle that we went on we should have no salary for Members of Parliament at all. We should still fill the House. The Benches would not all be empty if we went back to the end of the nineteenth century, when no allowance was paid to Members. It is just that there would be a different kind of Member.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Down, South)

That might be preferable.

Mr. Cunningham

They might be Members more inclined to represent a certain section of society, but they would not be a cross-section of society by any standards.

The third principle is that the proper service of the House in this day requires that a large number of hon. Members—not necessarily all—should be prepared to give full time or nearly full time to their parliamentary duties. Many of my hon. Friends have put that more extremely. But all Members of Parliament should give full time to their parliamentary duties. Some people believe that having a number of Members with outside interests is good for the House but this much no one can deny: if there were not a large number of Members giving their full time to their work in the House the place could not possibly work. The system of Select Committees that we introduced last year and that is working well could not function if that were not the case, so that is an important principle.

Another principle as regards the manner in which we take our decisions is this. The House—that means individual Members of the House—should jealously guard the right to take this decision. It is not a decision which should be taken by Governments, either in theory or in practice. Many of us when we were on the Government side of the House were prepared to say it to our own Government as I am prepared to say it to Conservative Back Benchers now.

Finally, another principle that hon. Members need to take account of is that there is a very sensitive ratio between the salary payable to a non-ministerial Member of the House and the salary payable to a Minister in the House. If that ratio is too favourable to a Minister, then there is too much desire to become a Minister and too much reluctance to resign in circumstances when Ministers should resign. One of our virtues is that we are only as human as our constituents. Therefore, if that ratio is got wrong this place is entirely weakened bv it.

I regard it as simply absurd and meriting no further argument that we decide that a Member of Parliament should be paid about the same as, let us say, an assistant borough secretary of a London local authority. It is absurd. I regard it as absurd that we should decide that the appropriate amount to pay to a Member of Parliament is about the middle of the scale of the payment that we make to a principal in the Civil Service, who is far from the top of the hierarchy of the Civil Service. The Guardian earlier this year said: There is something wrong with a society that pays its junior civil servants £ 5,000 more than its full-time representatives in Parliament. I would only disagree with that because I do not think that there is anything wrong with society. There is just something wrong with the Members of Parliament. It is entirely for us. We have no one to blame but ourselves. We are taking a decision which is not only about ourselves but about the good government of the country.

Until now hon. Members have been perfectly justified in directing criticisms at the Government, and I shall, too, in a moment. But after tonight no criticism can be directed at the Government. The Government cannot pass this motion. They have only got 90 votes. It will pass tonight only if Members of Parliament vote for it, and thereafter the entire responsibility for that lies with us as Members and not with the Government.

There are masses of people in the middle and lower ranks of government, of industry, of commerce and of jounalism—both the people who write the stuff and the people who print it—who are paid very considerably more than we think is right for a Member of Parliament. If we want to savour some of the absurdities, I recommend hon. Members to read through the second annual report of the House of Commons Commission, which sets out in great detail the salaries paid to our own staff in the House.

Let us turn to the Department of the Clerk of the House. Of course, we should not dream of equating ourselves with the Clerk of the House. Let us go down to the Clerk Assistant. We must not equate ourselves with him. We could move down the list to the Clerk of Committees, but that is too high. Let us go down the list again to the Second Clerk Assistant. That is too high. Let us go down to the six Principal Clerks Class I. That is too high. Let us consider the three Principal Clerks Class II. That is too high. too. Let us go down to the 15 Deputy Principal Clerks: but that is too high. We are now down to the 29 Senior Clerks. We have found the level.

It is absurd. Hon. Members may wish to look at other parts of the list, such as the Refreshment Department and the Office of the Speaker. We must have some self-respect, and respect for the position and the responsibility that this job involves. I do not regard this matter lightly. We must prick this annual blister. It cannot go on for ever like this. In 1975 the House decided by a large majority that the salaries of hon. Members should be linked to some position in the public service.

There is an amendment on the Order Paper that expresses the same notion. That notion has been supported outside the House by several newspapers. It is time that the House reiterated its support for that principle. The amendment does not specify any particular grade. It simply states the principle of linkage. Over the years, that has been more or less supported by Governments, and commended to Boyle. Although Boyle rejected it he has always felt obliged to add that if the House wanted to go for it he would gladly advise on the best way of doing so.

The Government say that we must set an example to the nation. As I have explained, we have set an example. We should do so if we were to accept the Boyle recommendation tonight. Uniike his previous reports, in his latest report Boyle himself aimed off. He said that it might be appropriate to do certain things, but that he recommended something less. We all know why he did that. The Prime Minister gave him an assurance.

If the House were to say that those outside the House should settle for 9-6 per cent. at the end of the year in which inflation has reached 20 per cent. and worse, it would be setting an unrealistic standard. At the end of a year of such inflation it would not be right if people were to settle for such a low figure. The saddest and most important feature of this business is unprecedented. In politics, there are not many absolute rules. However, one is that when one gives one's word one keeps it.

Let us distinguish between the undertakings that can be given. If someone stands up during an election campaign and says "We will bring down inflation", that is not an undertaking, but a boast. We all understand that as such. However, when someone says, "This is what the Government will do", it is a promise. T did not think that the day would come when a British Prime Minister would take an assurance so lightly.

What the Prime Minister said in her letter to Lord Boyle which commissioned the report that we are now discussing was: I would be grateful if you would undertake this review. It is our intention to accept and implement the recommendations you make. That had never been said before to Lord Boyle. It was said to Lord Boyle and acted upon by him in reaching his decision. The Leader of the House, who, as he knows, earns great respect in all parts of the House in many ways, is unhappy. But he is not unhappy enough. He said: This year"— this is not 12 months ago, but this year on 4 March, speaking to the House as Leader of the House— the updating of the second stage payment by the Review Body on Top Salaries has been accepted in advance by the Government, and the Government are committed to implementing the updating from this summer. That also will be applied to the third stage of the payment ".—[Official Report, 4 March 1980; Vol. 980, c. 266.] He went on to indicate the Government's attitude to implementing Boyle in later years. It is significant that he left a loophole in respect of those later years. He did not give a 100 per cent. commitment, which only serves to strengthen the nature of the 100 per cent. commitment which he made in respect of this year.

Let us just get clear what the nature of that promise was. First, the Government were not promising the outcome of this debate. I would be the first to criticise the Government if they ever said "We guarantee that the House will vote for the following." This is not a decision for them to take; it is one for the House to take. Secondly, it is not a question of the Government saying "We will do the following for you." Once again, it is for us to decide, not for them to promise something to us. What the Government were doing was to promise something that they would act upon for their part in so far as Government could achieve it.

It is inconceivable that a British Prime Minister could take so lightly a promise so given. It is inconceivable that a Leader of the House makes an undertaking of that kind, is forced by his colleagues to renege on it and then does not resign. The keeping of promises does not depend on the subject matter. This is not the most important thing in the world at all. It is very unimportant, but one either keeps promises or one does not, and if one gives them up on little things like that, what use is one's word at all?

It gives me no satisfaction that it is the Conservative Party whose Prime Minister and Leader of the House have done this, because this is such a breach of private morality, which has its place in public affairs, that it shames any of us. It lowers and demeans all of us when a British Prime Minister and a British Leader of the House take so lightly the assurances that they have given.

I come to the resolutions. My hon. Friend the Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) has tabled an amendment the effect of which would be to implement the Boyle recommendations for Members but not necessarily for Ministers. I am sure that many Members of the House will feel that that should be supported. It is a view which has been supported outside the House. If we do not do that, certainly the whole issue goes back very much into the melting pot. However, it is a decision upon which each Member must make up his mind.

We then have the proposal on linkage. That repeats the position taken by the House in 1975. It is supported on an all-party basis, across the Floor of the House, and it is something which I strongly urge my right hon. and hon. Friends to support tonight.

We then have a modest proposal to make the pensionable salary the figure adopted by Boyle rather than the figure recommended by the Government. That is what we have always done before over the past five years or so. If that amendment is carried, a consequential amendment will be required to the next section in that motion.

The next amendment, to alter the basis for the pensions of Members from sixtieths to fortieths, would require legislation. If that amendment is passed tonight it will be a clear indication to the Government that it is the wish of the House that that change should be made.

Then we come to the secretarial allowance. I must say to the Leader of the House that there is a fault in the motion that he has tabled. The proposal is that a sum of money equal to 10 per cent. of the secretarial allowance should be available to Members to pay into schemes to provide pensions for Members' secretaries.

It is the intention of the Leader of the House—for what that is worth—as he announced in reply to a question last Friday, that there should also be a limit on the amount payable in respect of each secretary, that limit being 10 per cent. of the salary paid to that secretary. But the Leader of the House must get it out of his head that he is in a position to instruct the Accountant of the House. The answer that he gave on Friday was the second time that he used the word, that he would "instruct" the Accountant of the House. He has no authority whatsoever to instruct the Accountant of the House, and he must stop using that word. When his civil servants put it to him, he has to refuse to take that advice. He has no authority to limit the payment made to 10 per cent. of individual salaries unless he is prepared to put it in a motion before the House.

My hon. Friend has recommended that the secretarial allowance should be raised to the figure recommended by Boyle, at £ 8,000. It might be felt that there is no point in having Boyle at all if we are going to reject not only the main but every recommendation that he has made.

All these are matters for decisions of the House; that is, for individual Members. It is highly salutary for Governments not always to get their way in the House. Governments are all the better for a good beating, particularly a regular one. If Governments are defeated about once a month it keeps them in pretty good trim. There are one or two motions on the Order Paper for which there is sufficient support on both sides of the House, and it would be right for the House to substitute its decision and judgment for those put forward by the Leader of the House. I commend the second and third motions particularly for support by all who are concerned that the House, and not the Government, should take this decision.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Would it be in accordance with the wishes of the House if those who have amendments which are to be called introduce them and then we vote upon them?

Mr. Speaker

I think that we had better follow the procedure that I outlined earlier.

11.23 pm
Mr. Edward da Cann (Taunton)

I agreed very much with the opening words of the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham). His work in this area has long been constructive and is much respected on both sides of the House. But if he will not mind my saying so directly, I thought that he went much too far in the attack that he made upon my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. It is very good to see that my right hon. Friend has been joined by some of his and my right hon. Friends. It is appropriate that he should not stand alone. The doctrine of collective responsibility is well understood in the House and it could not function without it.

I also agreed with the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury when he said that speeches should be short. Mine certainly will be short.

I greatly regret the necessity for this debate. We may find some odd moments of amusement in it, but it is, on the whole, an unhappy and undignified affair. The tragedy is that its likelihood has long been foreseen.

I think it appropriate to explain the advice that was given to the Front and Back Benches on both sides of the House three years ago, repeated two years ago and one year ago. There was a clear recommendation that we should establish the Boyle committee—that was done—that the committee's reports should be accepted without equivocation and that there should be a commitment from the whole House before the forthcoming general election. If that suggestion had been accepted it would have solved the problem and we should not be having this debate. Alas, it was not accepted by either side and we have had the embarrassment of a year ago and further embarrassment now. My purpose in speaking is to express the hope that it might be avoided on future occasions, and to say how that might be done.

We are much too introspective about this matter. I fancy that the country is much less interested in it than we believe.

But I cannot accept that it can be right that the House should be asked by the Government of the day to accept only those parts of Boyle that suit them at a particular time. We have made the position of Lord Boyle and his colleagues utterly impossible and we should not any longer ask them to carry out for us this odious duty which, apparently, we have in the past lacked the courage to decide exclusively for ourselves.

May I put the matter in a wider context? My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in her statement of 7 July on reports Nos. 14 and 15 of the Review Body, made it clear that it was appropriate to consider them together. I should like to do that also.

Report No. 14 covered several professions. It may be thought that they were an unlikely mè lange—chairmen and members of nationalised industry boards, members of the high judiciary, senior civil servants, senior officers in the Armed Services—but all people of significance in our State for whom Ministers and the House are responsible.

I should like to refer specifically to the nationalised industry chairmen. There are some general lessons to be drawn from the way that we are treating them. I do not know of another occasion when it will be possible to talk about them. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House was good enough to say that he would answer any questions put to him in the debate. I put one to him now; how easy is it to fill vacancies at the highest levels in the nationalised industries? We have seen what has been happening lately in certain of them. The British Steel Corporation comes immediately to mind. How many vacancies have there been over the years? How long have they remained unfilled?

I remember the permanent secretary at the Department of Industry making it clear to the Public Accounts Committee when I was chairman that it had been impossible to find a first choice as chairman of the newly nationalised British Shipbuilders because not enough money was being offered. The position of finance director in that company had been vacant for 15 months. I suspect that, much more often than the House knows, we cannot fill top jobs because we do not pay enough.

The Boyle report indicates as much. It says that nationalised industries are: Some of the largest and technologically most complex industries in the country, indeed in the world. The House knows that that is so. It is crucial to get the best people to run those industries and it is right to pay a premium, where necessary, for excellence. What is the present position? I quote again from the Boyle report, which contains frequent references to the point: It has been put to us strongly that the present level of salaries for Chairmen and Board members is generally too low. Let us take paragraph 11: Our attention has already been drawn to the difficulty, at current (staged) salaries, of attracting and retaining individuals with the capacity and experience to manage some of the major industries on which the future prosperity of the country depends, in a rapidly changing and increasingly international market. The difficulty has been exacerbated, it was said, by earlier decisions to stage the implementation. and so on.

The position is entirely clear. Here are these industries; we are responsible for them. There is difficulty in getting the right people to run them. What do we promptly proceed to do? We cut the recommended salary increases for the chairmen and others by about 30 per cent.

We are compounding the difficulty. We are making it all the greater for the future. We are not only establishing a situation in which differentials are harder to maintain but endeavouring to create an example which, in my opinion, simply does not work. The sooner we abandon it for a flat market rate approach the better.

There is a link with this place, is there not? If the nationalised industries are technologically complex and important, Great Britain Limited, or Great Britain Unlimited, is the most important responsibility in the United Kingdom. As the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury so rightly said, this place is changing. There is an increasingly and strongly held view on the Back Benches that we must be more active in living up to our responsibility of exercising a control, a continuous surveillance, over the Executive, especially as the scope of government has grown, as it has so much in recent years.

We must become more professional. Some of us may like that; some of us may dislike it. None the less, it is the fact. We are in a position of transition, as we establish new Select Committees to help us carry out that work, as we come to talk, as we surely shall this year, about other devices, such as the pre-examination of legislation before it goes to its Standing Committee stage.

It is right that my right hon. Friend should tell us "Certainly we shall provide the oportunity for hon. Members to exercise their responsibilities better, in the name of the people. What is more, I shall provide the facilities for them to do this work." For too long they have been lacking. It must be right, for instance, to give right hon. and hon. Members the opportunity to travel. I could quote the names of individual hon. Members on both sides of the House who have travelled to, for example, Northern Ireland many times at their own expense.

How right my right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) was to say that it is most extraordinary to put up the salaries of secretaries in the Civil Service by 20 per cent. and limit ourselves when we have work to do.

I believe in Parliament. I want to see it work better and more effectively, in the national interest. That has been my aim and ambition for many years. My reason for disappointment over this matter is not only the embarrassment to which I have referred but my feeling that in doing what the Government propose tonight, if that is what is eventually agreed, we are not advancing this process as rapidly or as effectively we might.

The people of this nation trust us to do a responsible job. Alas, we have not always been doing it. We must, over the years, taking the long view, encourage people of ability, experience and judgment to come here—not to come here for the income, of course, but we cannot ignore that side of life. The nation has no right to ask that a thorough job be done on its behalf on the cheap. There is a limit to the sacrifices that should be asked of men and women in the public service.

How do we stand? The hon. Gentleman referred to newspaper comment. The Times commented a short time ago that British Members of Parliament were absolutely and relatively the lowest paid of any in an industrial country". The Guardian said: MPs remain the lowest paid of any Western State except Ireland. Quite rightly, my right hon. Friend himself, in our last debate on the subject, pointed out that the salary had not been brought properly up to date for seven years.

When Boyle reported to us a year ago, Members' remuneration was still at a level below that which a top London secretary could earn. I do not know what the right figure is—£ 15,000 a year has been mentioned. I think that it ought to be a good deal higher. Be that as it may, what we are asked to accept now is some 20 per cent. below that figure. Let the nation note that.

It is true that Members' conditions have been much improved, and we have much to thank the Leader of the House for in that regard. But it is fair to state that the improvement began from an absurdly low level, and it is also fair to state—let me say it plainly to the House—that the conditions have improved only because the Parliamentary Labour Party, led by the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) and his predecessor, Lord Cledwyn Hughes, and the 1922 Committee have come together to try to make things better. T thank my colleagues most warmly for all they have done in that regard.

It may be that some hon. Members feel that they do not need a salary increase. Very well—let them not draw it. And let them also not advertise the fact. I do not know your view, Mr. Speaker, but I know too many hon. Members who do need the salary increase. I also wish to say how much I regret that Ministers are being asked to make a greater sacrifice than Members. Frankly, I do not think that that is fair.

I have said before, and I repeat, that there is no doubt, as the Governor of the Bank of England was remarking upstairs this evening to the Select Committee on the Treasury and Civil Service, that we are in a recession, and, of course, my right hon. Friend is right—the spotlight is on Members of Parliament. So perhaps only one course is open to us today. I certainly would not vote for the Boyle recommendation at this moment. [Hon. Members: "Why not?"] We should have had it before, but that moment has passed and gone. But other things need to be said.

I hope that the House will vote in favour of the proposal standing in the names of right hon. and hon. Members on both sides—that we should put up the pension to the notional level, as we did before. It is not fair to take out of those who are in the evening of their lives the necessity of present times.

I do not care for pecking orders or for comparabilities, but I think that the hon. Member for Islington South, and Finsbury was right in what he said about the need to look again at some form of link. I would prefer a basket in accordance with the evidence that some of us gave to Boyle a short while ago. That is the way to do it, I believe, and I think we have to aim also at settling the right figure and the right link for the period of a Parliament.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister also said—and I think that she was entirely right—that these are matters that we must decide for ourselves.

Mr. Alan Clark

My right hon. Friend says that he thinks that we should decide the matter for a period of a Parliament. There might be many in the House who would agree with him. But would it not be more seemly if we decided it at the end of one Parliament to cover our successors in the next?

Mr. du Cann

My hon. Friend is entirely right. That is precisely what some of us recommended at the end of the last Parliament, and I would recommend it now for the end of this Parliament, whenever that may come.

Mr. Nick Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)

Is my right hon. Friend saying that he is in favour of a sum being fixed at the beginning of a Parliament and that, no matter what the rate of inflation, it should not rise at all during that Parliament?

Mr. du Cann

That is not what I said, but I would be ready to come to some arrangement of that sort in a way that I am about to suggest to the House.

My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Mr. Clark) is entirely right. Let us try to settle this issue at the end of a Parliament for the next Parliament. Let us take responsibilty away from the Front Benches. It is a House of Commons matter. Let us establish a small group of Members of experience to handle this for us and to decide. We have plenty of wisdom and plenty of experience in this House. Those hon. Members who have been privileged to be in this House for many years have a great sense of responsibility.

Let us hope this time that we can get away from the dé jà vu to which reference has been made. Let us make certain that we settle the matter once and for all.

11.40 pm
Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)

I think the House wants to expedite the debate and I shall be very brief.

We have had two fine speeches and the position is clear. I give every credit to the right hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann). We have been trying to reach an agreement about what we can achieve on behalf of the House. I should have expected that the Leader of the House would accept what we propose. It is unfair to use the pay roll vote to try to defeat what is, I think, the general view on each side of the House of what we can do.

We are suggesting no more than that we should be fair to those who receive pensions by preserving and maintaining the present system. Secondly, we have suggested turning to a system of linkage.

We have drafted our proposal widely so that the Government have a wide discretion. We do that in the light of our experience. We have negotiated with the Boyle committee and we know the difficulties. We know that the main difficulty that faces the Boyle committee is that its recommendations have, as it said, to be swiftly implemented. That has not happened and that is what causes the trouble. We want to avoid that.

I should have thought that if the House could accept the amendment on linkage we should be able to do just what the right hon. Gentleman has proposed. We could then have discussions with the Leader of the House to determine the most effective way of dealing with the matter. If we did that we should then at last have taken the matter out of the area of public controversy. That is the objective.

We have gone a long way and made a lot of progress in the last year or two. I do not want to be disrespectful to the Leader of the House, but these are the things that we ought to do, and do urgently. I hope that the House will be able to come to this decision.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Hugh Dykes. (Hon. Members: "Vote."] Order. It is very difficult for me to ascertain whether it is the will of the House that the Question be put. [Interruption.] Order. We can settle it very easily. I cannot settle it. Someone could propose it.

Mr. Ogden rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Mr. Speaker

There are two opinions and we have had only two speeches. I shall give the House the chance to vote if it wishes. The time will be taken out of the four hours if the House divides. I think that we had better move on for a while. Mr. Hugh Dykes.

11.43 pm
Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East)

I think there has been—[Interruption.] If I detect the feeling of the House correctly, although hon. Members may wish to come to a vote in due course, without taking as long as some might have expected, none the less there is, I think, a feeling that there should be some further debate. [Interruption.] There are a number of things that should be said very briefly before the vote is taken.

First, there is a sense in which the House has continually to say to itself and to the public outside that we regard these occasions as deeply embarrassing, awkward and, indeed, offensive. There is nothing more awkward than for hon. Members to have to explain outside that we have a relatively crowded House at 11.45 pm tonight on this subject whereas on most occasions at this hour when we are debating matters of national importance there is nothing like this number of hon. Members present. That is a reflection of the feeling that we should try once and for all to exorcise this matter from our debates and decisions, either through the proposal of my right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann) for a committee of Members—[Interruption]. As a relatively new Member, I think that I am entitled to express a view about the difficulties that hon. Members who have been in the House for a fairly short time face because of the impasse on Members' pay.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton suggested a special committee of Members. Other hon. Members would prefer the matter to be considered by an independent review body. But we all feel deeply sympathetic to the Boyle machinery and to Lord Boyle for the way in which his independent and objective study has been undermjned. Whether the reasons for the undermining from the Treasury Bench were correct is another matter for another debate. It is right for the House to reach a decision, which should be more than merely an expression of opinion on amendment (h) principally and on other related amendments.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Ogden

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. With respect to the hon. Gentleman, I have listened to these arguments for 16 years, and the only way to decide anything is to vote. I beg to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put. That the Question be now put:—

The House divided: Ayes 257, Noes 33.

Mr. Speaker

I wish to make a brief statement. Because the House made it clear to me that it wished me to accept the closure, I now deem the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) to have been moved. That will mean that the House will vote now on whether we have full Boyle or not.

Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, Central)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I do not think that anybody should deem that I do anything, least of all move an amendment without discussing it. My point is serious. At the outset of the debate, Mr. Speaker, you suggested a form for debate which would ensure that hon. Members like myself would have the opportunity to make their points. Hon. Members who heard that obviously did not dissent from that course. It may well have been that those who sought to move the closure of the debate did not realise what the House had agreed. I am thereby precluded from exercising my right to speak to my amendment. Because my amendment was fairly narrowly drawn on Members' salaries only, I was not able to speak to that amendment on subsequent amendments. Mr. Speaker said that the debate would last for four hours. I hope that, at some time during the course of that four hours, I shall have the opportunity to speak. I shall endeavour to bring myself in order and raise the points that I intended to raise on my original amendment.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman is quite correct. The House has accepted the closure on his amendment only. We have now come to amendment (a), which is "full Boyle".

Amendment proposed: (a), in line 1, leave out from 'House' to the end of the Question and add

'the salaries and pensions paid to Members of Parliament in respect of service on and after 13th June 1980 should be those recommended in Report No. 15 of the Review Body on Top Salaries.'.—[Mr. William Hamilton.]

Question put. That the Amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 137, Noes 231.

Mr. Peter Bottomley (Woolwich, West)

Although even a short contribution now is unpopular, Mr. Speaker, I shall make it. I am in the habit of making contributions, welcome or not, in the cause of free debate. I should like to make four brief points. The first is that there is no embarrassment in discussing our pay. The embarrassment relates to the messes that we make in settling it each year in this haphazard way.

Secondly, as as already been said by the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham), the question of linkage has already been determined in 1975. Personally, I would take it very amiss if the Government now decide to oppose a decision which the House has already taken. My third point ties in with this, and anticipates debates next year and the year after. It is that the Government should put the Boyle recommendations before the House and leave it to the House itself to table an amendment to reduce those recommendations. I believe that it is wrong for the Government to do that.

My final point is my own recommendation for the future. I do not believe that the House should decide at the end of a Parliament what the pay should be for the next Parliament. Instead, it should, early on in the present Parliament, decide what the pay should be at the beginning of the next one. In order to get round the problem of committing a future Parliament, I believe that the form of words next year should be to the effect that on the last possible day of this Parliament, or at a preceding general election, the salary should be put at the appropriate level.

My view is that during a Parliament Members should not receive full compensation for inflation. I think that they should receive increases representing half the increase in inflation. In that way we make sure that at least at the beginning of each Parliament new Members, whether "retreads" or not, receive the right amount of money. We would also set an example during the currency of the Parliament to which we are elected.

12.27 am
Mr. Hooley

I would have thought that one of the principles to which this House was dedicated was full and fair debate. I should like to follow what the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Bottomley) has just said. By rejecting Boyle, this House has rejected the principles of an independent review body. It will be nonsensical in the future to ask distinguished men or women in public life to sit and deliberate or calculate the salaries and conditions of Members of Parliament, only for them to make their recommendations to this House and to have them thrown out on the say-so of the Government Whips. That is a quite intolerable situation, and we have now discredited one very valuable means of determining the remuneration of Members of this House.

It follows that we must seek some alternative method. Clearly, there are only two options available. One is simply to decide for ourselves what we wish to pay ourselves, without any reference to any external body or index whatever. I think that most hon. Members would reject that idea. The alternative is some form of linkage—some sort of automatic calculator—related to other salaries, either in public life or elsewhere. Personally, I think that the proposition now before us is somewhat narrowly calculated, but I believe that the principle is of enormous importance, and I hope that the House will vote for it.

12.29 am
Mr. Dykes

The House wishes to move to a Division, and I wish to make only two quick points. It is right that we have a short debate, and I wish to make two points in support of what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Bottomley) and the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley). This is a different matter from the previous vote.

The assertion and exhortation to us is that we should set an example. I agree. However, we should consider the effect of the example that was set last year. It is interesting that the second stage automatic increase passed wholly unnoticed in the public mind, and that it is only the row about the percentage increase on the Boyle adjustment which has got into the newspapers as a result of the embarrassment of this House.

We can get off this hook by going back to the memory, the decisive vote and the enormous majority of 1975 in favour of linkage—to assistant secretary or whatever may be suitable—and deciding that that will be the system from now on. Whatever grade may be chosen, that must be the rational way for the House to decide the matter. I support the amendment.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 225, Noes 159.

  1. See Division 413 7 words
  2. cc190-1
  3. See Division 414 155 words
  4. c191
  5. See Division 415 62 words