HC Deb 21 May 1980 vol 985 cc499-501
52. Mr. Whitney

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he is satisfied with the operation of the Pay Research Unit.

Mr. Channon

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Whitney

Will my hon. Friend consider that answer carefully again? When he looks at the operation of the PRU, will he not consider that it has resulted in high levels of Civil Service salaries, which have increased the difficulties of reaching reasonable pay settlements in the private sector?

Mr. Channon

Whatever the truth of that statement, it is not the fault of the Pay Research Unit. In this year's pay settlement the Government have applied a strong discipline in the form of a 14 per cent. cash limit. I wish that that had been followed in other sections of the community as well.

Mr. Wrigglesworth

Is the Minister aware of the comprehensive press reports this morning that the Government will look again at fair comparison for settling Civil Service pay? Does he remember the denials of previous press leaks of this sort which were subsequently confirmed in the Prime Minister's statement last week? Will he say something today to assure people that those press leaks are not from Government Departments. as they clearly appear to be?

Mr. Channon

I have not the least idea where those leaks came from. I was not responsible for them so I cannot confirm or deny what the hon. Member has said. I should be very surprised if they came from Government Departments.

Mr. Stokes

Is the Minister aware that the weakness of these comparisons is that in the public service there is no strain, no risk of dismissal, an index-linked pension and honour from the Queen? Compared with the risks of private enterprise, civil servants are very softly bedded.

Mr. Channon

I take note of my hon. Friend's views, and I understand that a large number of hon. Members share them. A system of comparability has been used to fix Civil Service pay almost since the time of Northcote Trevelyan, and to change it would be quite a major undertaking.

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