HC Deb 10 December 1984 vol 69 cc727-8
23. Mr. Greenway

asked the Paymaster General how many staff are employed in his Department; what is the nature of their responsibilities; and what is the size of the budget he administers.

The Paymaster-General (Mr. John Selwyn Gummer)

On 1 November there were 834 staff in post in my Department.

My Department acts as banker for Government Departments; provides the Treasury with up-to-date information on central Government expenditure: and pays public service pensions. Its administrative budget for 1984–85 amounts to £12.3 million, of which about £400,000 is recovered from other Departments.

Mr. Greenway

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware of the appalling suffering and inconvenience caused to pensioners by the DHSS strike at Newcastle? What effect has that strike had on DHSS payments?

Mr. Gummer

The strke has caused considerable distress. I am pleased to say that two of the unions have now agreed that their members should go back to work, and I hope that the third union will encourage its members to return. It is sad when the plight of the least able in our society is used to press home wage demands. There has been a considerable diminution in the number of payments that we have been able to make, amounting to about £500,000. I am sorry that that has happened, because we want to make those payments to the people who deserve them.

Mr. Ron Davies

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that those figures hardly deserve the appointment of someone of Cabinet rank to overseer them? Will the hon. Gentleman accept that his role in the Cabinet really rests upon his chairmanship of the Conservative party?

Mr. Gummer

As the hon. Gentleman's facts are incorrect, perhaps it would be unsuitable for me to answer his question.