HC Deb 10 May 1988 vol 133 c132
1. Mr. Teddy Taylor

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what account the Government's review of nurses' pay takes of the problem of high living costs in areas like Southend-on-Sea; and if he will make a statement.

The Secretary of State for Social Services (Mr. John Moore)

The independent review body examined the question of selective pay supplements and said that for staff outside the London area it would be sensible to wait until the new grading structure has had time to take effect. The review body suggested it would then be possible to decide more accurately whether, and if so what, further geographical pay incentives may be required.

Mr. Taylor

Is the Secretary of State aware that, while the nursing pay review was widely welcomed in the profession and owed a great deal to his initiative, nurses and other public servants working on national wage scales feel discriminated against because of the uniquely high cost of living in some areas, of which Southend is an example? As it is a long time since we had a visit from a Health Minister to our excellent hospitals in Southend, will my right hon. Friend, or one of his colleagues, be willing to visit one of our hospitals and speak to the nurses about their problems?

Mr. Moore

Having had some considerable involvement with the hospitals in my hon. Friend's area, I shall be delighted to accept his courteous invitation. Having said that, I stress that the recommendations of the review body and the problem of geographical pay beyond the Thames region will obviously not go away.

Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

Since the fringe zone weighting in Sir James Cleminson's report goes out as far as east Berkshire, should it not reach as far as Reading? suggest that the cost of living in Reading is every bit as high as anywhere in the outer region of London, if not as high as in London itself. Does not the problem of recruiting nurses there owe much to the fact that the cost of living in Reading is as high as it is in London?

Mr. Moore

I stressed that I was repeating the comments of the review body. I am conscious of the particular problems of recruitment in the M4 corridor. The Government are conscious of some of the geographical pay difficulties and will not ignore the point that my hon. Friend has made.