HC Deb 04 June 1984 vol 61 cc8-9
6. Mr. Grist

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what percentage of (a) local authority and (b) National Health Service current expenditure in Wales is accounted for by pay and associated costs.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

The latest available information indicates that 78 per cent. of local authority expenditure is accounted for by pay and associated costs. The corresponding figure for Welsh health authorities and the Welsh health technical services organisation is 75 per cent.

Mr. Grist

Given the various pay claims now being made, does my hon. Friend agree that his answer underlines the importance of restraint in public pay if we are to conquer and finally end inflation?

Mr. Roberts

I agree wholeheartedly with my hon. Friend. Expenditure by public sector bodies must be contained within a level that the public can afford. Unrealistic pay settlements only mean cuts elsewhere in the services and in employment.

Mr. Ray Powell

Will the Minister now say how much is being spent both inside and outside Wales on policing the miners' pickets? I am given to understand that a number of mid-Glamorgan policemen are being sent to other areas. As pay and associated matters are involved, may we be told whether local authorities will be reimbursed in full for expenses incurred on such policing duties?

Mr. Roberts

Statements have already been made on that point, which is very much a matter for the Home Secretary.

Mr. Wigley

May we have an assurance that maintaining the level of local services, particularly in the NHS, will not be done at the expense of the pay of people who are already paid very poorly indeed?

Mr. Roberts

I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman. There has been an increase in the number of people employed in the NHS and, for obvious reasons, we are anxious that they should be employed as efficiently and effectively as possible. The question of pay is for Whitley council negotiation.

Mr. Best

Is my hon. Friend aware that it would be a gross dereliction of duty on the part of the Government towards nurses and others in the public sector who spend much of their time and effort caring for people if the Government were to succumb to the demands of a sector of society which has greater industrial muscle and which seeks to take what it wants in increased pay by industrial force rather than through negotiation?

Mr. Roberts

Negotiation is always to be preferred. We had some experience of industrial action in the NHS in 1982, as a consequences of which waiting lists increased.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Will the Minister be magnanimous and admit that local authorities are doing a splendid job with the most inadequate resources? Is he aware—he must be—that wages in the NHS are notoriously low and that no proposal has yet been put forward, even by the present Government, to replace nurses by robots?

Mr. Roberts

I am sure that Mr. Speaker would not permit me to turn this into a general discussion of how worth while are the local government services in general and the NHS in particular. The services which they provide are, of course, valuable. About 150,000 people in Wales are employed in local government and about 54,000 in the NHS.