§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris)
Before I call the Leader of the House, I must make three announcements. Madam Speaker has ruled that all Back-Bench speeches shall be limited to 10 minutes. All amendments are open for debate, and since the list of hon. Members wishing to contribute is long I remind them that the debate is restricted to three hours and ask them to show some restraint within that limit.
§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Tony Newton)
I beg to move,That, in the opinion of this House, the following provision should be made with respect to the salaries of Members of this House—(1) In respect of service in the period starting with 1st July 1996 and ending with 31st March 1997 the yearly rates of salaries payable to Members in accordance with the Resolution of this House of 3rd November 1993 should be increased by three per cent.(2) For each year starting with 1st April, from 1997 onwards, the yearly rates should be increased by the average percentage by which the mid-points of the Senior Civil Service pay bands having effect from 1st April of that year have increased compared with the previous 1st April.(3) The mid-point of a Senior Civil Service pay band is the point half way between the maximum and the minimum.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
With this, it will be convenient to consider the following: motion 5—Parliamentary Pay and Allowances:That this House takes note of the Review Body on Senior Salaries' Report on Parliamentary pay and allowances presented to Parliament on 4th July (Command Paper 3330), and calls on the Government to take any necessary action to enable implementation of the recommendations.Motion 6—Members' Salaries (No. 1):That the following provision shall be made with respect to the salaries of Members of this House—(1) In respect of service in the period starting with 1st July 1996 and ending with 31st March 1997 the yearly rates of salaries payable to Members in accordance with the Resolution of this House of 3rd November 1993 shall be increased by three per cent.(2) For each year starting with 1st April, from 1997 onwards, the yearly rates shall be increased by the average percentage by which the mid-points of the Senior Civil Service pay bands having effect from 1st April of that year have increased compared with the previous 1st April.(3) The mid-point of a Senior Civil Service pay band is the point half way between the maximum and the minimum.Motion 7—Members Salaries (No. 2):That the following provision shall be made with respect to the salaries of Members of this House—(1) In respect of service in the period starting with 1st July 1996 and ending with 31st March 1997 the salary of a Member shall be at a yearly rate of £43,000.(2) For each year starting with 1st April, from 1997 onwards, the yearly rate shall be increased by the average percentage by which the mid-points of the Senior Civil Service pay bands having effect from 1st April of that year have increased compared with the previous 1st April.(3) The mid-point of a Senior Civil Service pay band is the point half way between the maximum and the minimum.Motions 8 and 9—Parliament:That the draft Ministerial and other Salaries Order 1996 (No. 1), which was laid before this House on 8th July, be approved.489That the draft Ministerial and other Salaries Order 1996 (No. 2), which was laid before this House on 8th July, be approved.Motion 10—Parliamentary Pensions:That this House takes note of, and calls on the Government to implement. Recommendation 16 of the Review Body on Senior Salaries' Report on Parliamentary Pay and Allowances presented to Parliament on 4th July (Command Paper 3330) (supplementary scheme for Ministers and other paid office holders).Motion 11—Car Mileage Allowance:That, in the opinion of this House, the following provision should be made with respect to the rates of the car mileage allowance payable to Members in respect of journeys—
- (a) by Members, or
- (b) by spouses or persons in respect of whom the secretarial and research allowance is payable—(1) In respect of journeys commenced in the year starting with 1st April 1997, the allowance shall be payable to any Member at the higher rate up to a total of 20,000 miles and at the lower rate thereafter.(2) The higher rate is 47.2 pence per mile increased by the percentage (if any) by which the retail prices index for March 1997 has increased compared with the index for March 1996.(3) The lower rate is 21.7 pence per mile increased by the percentage (if any) by which the retail prices index for March 1997 has increased compared with the index for March 1996.(4) For each subsequent year starting with 1st April, the rates shall be increased by the percentage (if any) by which the retail prices index for the previous March has increased compared with the index for the March before that.(5) The rates shall be calculated to the nearest tenth of a penny (with exactly one twentieth being rounded up).(6) Arrangements shall be made by the Fees Office for ensuring that claims are supported by appropriate particulars.(7) In this Resolution "the retail price index" means the general index of retail prices (for all items) published by the Office for National Statistics (or any index or figures published by that Office in place of that index).Motion 12—Office Costs Allowance:That, in the opinion of this House, the following provision should be made with respect to the limit on the Office Costs Allowance—(1) The limit for any quarter in the year starting with 1st April 1997 should be £11,591 increased by the percentage (if any) by which the retail prices index for March 1997 has increased compared with the index for March 1996.(2) For any quarter in each subsequent year starting with 1st April the limit should be the limit for a quarter in the previous year increased by the percentage (if any) by which the retail prices index for the previous March has increased compared with the index for the March before that.(3) The limit in relation to Mr. David Blunkett should be 2.57 times that determined in accordance with paragraph (1) or (2).(4) The limit in relation to Mr. Bernie Grant should be 1.33 times that determined in accordance with paragraph (1) or (2).(5) The limit should be calculated to the nearest pound (with exactly 50 pence being rounded up).(6) In this Resolution—
- (a) "quarter" means a period of three months starting with 1st April, 1st July, 1st October or 1st January; and
- (b) "the retail prices index" means the general index of retail prices (for all items) published by the Office for National Statistics (or any index or figures published by that Office in place of that index).
§ Mr. Newton
In view of the many motions and amendments on the Order Paper, I hope that it will be thought sensible if I begin by setting out the structure as clearly and as briefly as I can.
490 Essentially, what we have done is to reflect as straightforwardly as possible what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in his written answer last Thursday—that we would enable the House to decide whether to endorse the Government's advice that pay increases should be restrained to 3 per cent., or whether to endorse the increases proposed in the Senior Salaries Review Body's report. Those propositions are motions 4 and 5 respectively. Both are expressions of opinion that are freely amendable but do not have direct effect. Thus, the following four motions are the matching substantive resolutions to give practical effect to whatever the House decides. Motions 6 and 8 would implement 3 per cent. for Members and Ministers respectively; motions 7 and 9 would implement the full SSRB pay recommendations for Members and Ministers respectively.
The remaining three motions concern three SSRB recommendations which do not relate to pay as such. Motion 10, which would not be needed if motion 5 were carried, is concerned with parliamentary pensions. Motions 11 and 12 enable the House to agree, if it wishes, the detailed implementation of the SSRB proposals on motor mileage allowance and the office costs allowance respectively. I shall return to those motions later.
The main issue—but certainly not the only one—is clearly the choice between the restraint that the Government urge and the much larger increases proposed in the SSRB report. Before I turn to that, it may help the House if I say something about some of the SSRB recommendations which have, in some cases, attracted rather less attention but which nevertheless are not insignificant.
First, I refer, but only in passing, to the five recommendations described as "development recommendations"—possibilities on which the review body did not make firm recommendations but on which it wished to do further work. These concern pay relativities between Whips and Parliamentary Secretaries and Lords and Commons Ministers below Cabinet level, and suggestions—for the House particularly—about additional pay for certain Members such as Select Committee Chairmen, increased central provision of office equipment and an "exceptional needs" allowance for certain constituencies related to some measurement of work load.
There is plenty of scope for argument about some or all of those, but it is not an argument that we need to carry to a conclusion today, although the Government and the SSRB will obviously wish to take account of anything said in the House today in considering how any such work might best be carried forward.
Secondly, there are a number of recommendations which simply reaffirm the status quo: for example, on the additional costs allowance, the London supplement and the arrangement by which Members who are also Members of the European Parliament continue to receive one third of a Member's salary in respect of their second job—the so-called duality rate. Although none of these requires action by the House, I should make it clear that the Government accept them.
Thirdly, there is a recommendation which will in due course require a resolution by the House but on which further work will plainly be needed before such a resolution can be framed. This is the proposal for an ill-health retirement grant—the introduction, for those whose health makes it undesirable for them to continue to 491 the end of a Parliament, of the equivalent of the resettlement grant for those who leave at the time of an election. Regardless of the outcome on the main issue tonight—I am looking around for the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd), who has tabled an amendment on this—the Government believe that this recommendation should be accepted in principle and the necessary work on detail put in hand. Thus, should it be necessary to move motion 10, and should the hon. Member for Cynon Valley wish to press her amendment, I would be very happy to accept it. It is exactly in line with what I have just said.
Fourthly, there are those recommendations, other than on the pay rates themselves, reflected in the resolutions before the House tonight. I take them in the order in which they arise. Two concern the mechanism and timing of future increases in pay from whatever levels are decided today. As motion 4 makes clear, the Government accept, and recommend that the House should agree, that the normal date for such increases should be moved from January to April from 1997 onwards and that any such increases should be determined by reference to what is in effect a basket of the pay band mid-points in the new senior civil service pay system.
The House knows—and, I believe, shares—my strongly held view that we need a system which provides for appropriate annual increases without the need for an annual vote on our pay. The sooner we re-establish such a system, the better, and that is what the proposals seek to do. Indeed, whatever the outcome of other matters, the House would wish me to express its thanks to Sir Michael Perry and the members of his review body, not least for their work on this aspect of their remit.
§ Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)
Why do the Government refuse to include evidence on the remuneration of peers? Many working peers find it difficult to manage; yet they do as much work as many Members of this House. Are they not being treated disgracefully?
§ Mr. Newton
The remuneration of working peers is a matter for the other place. There are three recommendations in the report on which I have not touched, and on which I was not planning to touch because they are for determination by the other place, but I am sure that my noble Friend the Lord Privy Seal and others in another place will note the hon. Gentleman's concern.
I have explained about the linking and dating of future increases. Motion 10 relates to parliamentary pensions. As I have said, that motion will not be needed if motion 5, which would implement the full SSRB report, is passed; but if the House accepts motion 4—the 3 per cent. proposal—motion 10 will be required to signal the House's approval. That would endorse the SSRB's recommendation that the changes relating to accruals and death-in-service gratuities in the parliamentary pensions scheme for which the House voted last year should be carried through to the associated supplementary scheme for Ministers and office holders. That proposal is plainly sensible, and we recommend its acceptance. If the House agrees, implementing regulations will be required. I am currently consulting the trustees on a draft, which is available in the Vote Office.
Motions 11 and 12 concern the car mileage and office costs allowances. The Government believe that the recommended office costs allowance increase of 492 6 per cent., from £43,908 this year to £46,363 in 1997–98, should be accepted. Again, I make that recommendation regardless of the outcome on other issues. I am afraid that I cannot smile on the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Ainger), which would go beyond the SSRB's recommendations. Although the hon. Gentleman will doubtless make his case with his usual eloquence, it is unlikely that I shall be able to advise the House to vote for the amendment.
I do not think that the position relating to the mileage allowance is as straightforward. Having noted the view that the top rate of that allowance was high in comparison with the rates provided by other schemes, but also the point that a number of Members of Parliament will have bought cars in the light of a pattern that had been established for many years, the SSRB concluded, "on balance", that it should be abolished—along with the bottom rate—and that all mileage should be reimbursed at what is currently the middle rate.
Whatever else may be said, this would undoubtedly be a radical upheaval of arrangements under which decisions about the purchase and replacement of cars, with significant financial effects, have already been made. The Government feel that, in the context of a similarly radical change in remuneration—that is, if the House votes for the SSRB recommendations on pay—the proposal should be accepted. If, however, the House votes for restraint in relation to beneficial proposals on pay, I think that it can reasonably expect similar restraint in relation to adverse changes elsewhere. Paragraph 21 of the report itself states:The primary recommendations in this report are designed as an integrated package.Accordingly, if—as I hope—the House accepts motion 4, I do not intend to move motion 11.
§ Mrs. Ann Taylor (Dewsbury)
I am astonished by what the Leader of the House has said about the Government's attitude. Will he confirm that the proposals relating to the car mileage allowance are not due to take effect until April? Will he also confirm that any Member of Parliament who seeks re-election at the next general election could not, in any circumstances, receive a guarantee that the allowance would be provided after the election, because of the decision of the electorate? Why should the Government prolong the scheme beyond April, given that the election will take place in May at the latest? Surely that position is indefensible.
§ Mr. Newton
I do not think so, especially in the light of what I have just said about what the report states. I am postulating circumstances in which the Government have not felt able to make a recommendation to the House—and the decision is for the House—and in which the House does not accept what the SSRB recommended across the board. The SSRB specifically said:The primary recommendations in this report are designed as an integrated package.What I have said reflects the position accurately. It is a proper, balanced approach.
§ Mr. James Wallace (Orkney and Shetland)
The Leader of the House has just said that the decision will be a matter for the House, but he must move motion 11 for it to become a matter for the House. He said that he might not move the motion. Will he give an undertaking that, 493 whatever happens to motions 4 and 5, he will move the motion relating to car mileage allowances and let the House decide?
§ Mr. Newton
I said quite clearly that in those circumstances I would not expect to move motion 11, and I will not depart from that.
§ Mr. Chris Mullin (Sunderland, South)
No doubt the Leader of the House has noticed that motion 11 carries my name as well as his. If he does not move it, I shall.
§ Mr. Newton
I had indeed noticed, and that thought had occurred to me. Although it does not alter what I have said, it will no doubt encourage the Liberal Democrats.
§ Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North)
As my right hon. Friend and the House will know, I have some commercial interest in the matter. I declare that interest now.
If the 74p mileage allowance is removed almost immediately, or within 12 months, that will cause great distress and financial hardship to many right hon. and hon. Members who have legitimately purchased cars on the basis of that allowance. The blackmail tactic of balancing one motion against another is unacceptable. I plead with my right hon. Friend to extend the period to at least two or three years to accommodate Members of Parliament who have bought cars recently on the basis of that allowance.
§ Mr. Newton
My hon. Friend has made a number of points that others may wish to weigh when considering what I said a few moments ago. I must tell him, however, that on the question of whether motion 11 should be moved in the context of the House's acceptance of motion 5—which supports the full SSRB package—the Government made it clear that the House would be able to make decisions on the SSRB report as a whole. In those circumstances, it would not be right for me to decline to move motion 11. It is reasonable for me to do so in the context of the much more limited proposals that the Government prefer, but it would be inconsistent with what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said last week about enabling the House to make decisions on the SSRB package as a whole.
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)
What worries me is that the committee apparently took no real evidence from those who know about the cost of maintaining a vehicle. I wonder whether my hon. Friend has seen the illustrative vehicle running costs issued by the Royal Automobile Club last November. Is it not obscene, immoral and wrong for people who have cars with low running costs to be able to claim an allowance that will make them a huge profit, while people living many miles from London who need a more comfortable car in which to travel long distances will be subsidising their parliamentary and constituency work mileage?
§ Mr. Newton
I am well aware that my hon. Friend—along with, for all I know, other hon. Members on both sides of the House—feels strongly about the matter. If he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, he will probably want to develop his points further. I have already made it 494 clear, however, that the Government feel that if the House accepts the SSRB's highly beneficial pay recommendations, it should be prepared to accept this recommendation for the same reason—that it was presented as part of a package.
§ Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)
I live a great deal further from London than my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) and I find that I can do the journey comfortably in a middle-grade car. I reach my destination safely, without breaking the speed limit.
§ Mr. Newton
My hon. Friend makes a somewhat different point and I am bound to say that I do not particularly want to get caught in the crossfire between Lancashire and Cheshire.
§ Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire)
Does my right hon. Friend accept that what he is proposing tonight is the perpetuation of a fudge? It is far better to accept the whole package, the good and the bad—and I speak as one who does have a large car and a long distance to travel—than to fudge it and to go on and on, as we have year after year, in a wholly undesirable way.
§ Mr. Newton
Again, my hon. Friend makes a point that will be shared by others and no doubt made in the debate. The Government have provided the House with the opportunity, as they said that they would, to take that decision if it wishes, but the Government cannot escape the responsibility of giving the House advice. That is what I have been seeking to do.
§ Mr. Newton
I will give way, but for the last time, I think, remembering what you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, said about the number of hon. Members wishing to speak.
§ Mr. Stern
My right hon. Friend has referred to the SSRB package as a balanced package. How can he possibly justify that description when changes in salary will be evenly felt across the House while changes in the car allowance are totally random in their effect on individual Members, depending on the size of their constituency and the distance from London?
§ Mr. Newton
I simply quoted from the SSRB's report—its own description of the basis on which it had made its proposals, taken as a whole.
§ Mr. Newton
I have given way to several Opposition Members. Many hon. Members want to speak and I do not wish to speak for a length of time that prevents many of those Members from speaking.
495 Before I respond to any more interventions, I should like to make this point, which is of some importance. Either way, whatever the House decides on the motor mileage allowance proposals, the House should accept the SSRB's associated recommendation for the system of controls for vehicle mileage allowance claims to be reviewed and strengthened, because the plain fact is that, whatever the allowance level, it must be right to ensure proper accountability.
§ Mr. Ashton
I wish to make just one point. When the allowance was fixed—I was in the House at the time and the right hon. Gentleman may have been too—the Committee simply asked the Automobile Association and the Royal Automobile Club, as independent bodies, to fix an allowance. Until then, we had been claiming the train fare. The agreement was that if hon. Members used their cars they got what it cost for a railway warrant. We then went to a system in the early 1970s where the RAC and AA fixed the mileage, which has since gone up, index linked. Why has the report changed it to a market rate during a depression when employers are screwing it down to what they can get away with? That is the yardstick that they have been using. They have changed the yardstick.
§ Mr. Newton
I am of course aware of the work of the Peyton committee in the early 1980s, which led to the allowance in its present form. As it happens, the RAC ceased some years ago to publish the relevant index, which is why I found myself with the difficulty of not being able to uprate the allowance at all.
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sorry to interrupt, but my right hon. Friend is incorrect. I have a copy of the RAC's illustrative running costs—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman is a member of the Chairmen's Panel. He should sit down immediately. He can make a speech later, if he catches the Speaker's eye.
§ Mr. Newton
The last thing I would wish to do is to mislead either my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) or the House. We are simply at cross-purposes. As I was told repeatedly as I tried to find a new way of uprating the motor mileage allowance some two or three years ago, the index on which the allowance was based had ceased to be published by the RAC. It may be that it publishes a different sort of index of motoring costs, but that calls into question whether it had not revised the basis underlying the 1983–84 arrangement.
§ Mr. Bruce
My right hon. Friend will know, if he looks at page 100 of the appendices given by the review body, that it quotes the RAC rate for 2000 cc motor cars as 496 79.7p, which is more than we are currently getting. The press likes to tell people that we are getting an inflated rate, when in fact it is a reduced rate and it takes no account of the fact that, because we have to have our cars in London, we are duty bound to provide a car for our spouses, which is not paid for by the House.
§ Mr. Newton
As I expected, this issue is clearly a matter of considerable contention in the House. I have sought to set out what the Government believe to be the right approach, but if the House wishes to accept the SSRB package, it should be willing to accept the whole package. If, however, the House accepts the Government's advice to be much more restrained, it would be reasonable to take a different view on the matter. Beyond that, it would be sensible if hon. Members would develop their arguments in the debate.
§ Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale)
As my right hon. Friend knows, I have one of the largest constituencies in England. I simply want to ask him this: what evidence did the review body take from individual Members as to their motoring needs in their constituencies? I believe the answer to be none, in which case, regardless of what the House decides tonight on pay, this matter should surely be referred back for proper investigation because, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Stern) said, it impacts differently on Members across the House and will create injustice.
§ Mr. Newton
My hon. Friend is introducing a further line of argument. I respect that, but I do not think that I am in a position to add to what I have said.
I come now to the SSRB's main pay recommendations. As the House knows, the review body recommended a salary of £43,000an increase of just over 26 per cent. on the present figure. It also recommended that Ministers and office holders in the House of Commons should henceforth receive a full, rather than a reduced, parliamentary salary—the abatement now is 25 per cent.—and that after the next election there should be large increases for Cabinet Ministers, the Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister. As was made clear last week, the Government think that those recommendations are too high and instead propose an increase of 3 per cent., which would lead to a salary of £35,108 per year for Members.
On that basis, the Government also propose to continue their policy of giving Ministers the same percentage increase as Members. We have therefore proposed increases of 3 per cent. for Ministers and other office holders. Ministers would of course also move to an effective date of 1 April for increases, like Members, and receive the same percentage increases that Members receive under the proposed new arrangement.
Members will have their own views about the merits of the SSRB proposals considered in isolation, and of the surveys, comparability studies and judgments on which they rest, but the plain fact is that they cannot be considered in isolation, either by the Government or, in my view, by the House. Inescapably, such recommendations have to be considered in relation to their impact on the wider aims of public policy, and in particular in relation to the overriding importance of maintaining progress towards our economic objectives— 497 with firm control of public spending, in which public sector pay is an important ingredient, playing a crucial part in that.
§ Mr. Stuart Bell (Middlesbrough)
If the Government intended to give Members a 3 per cent. increase, in line with their other policy objectives, why did the right hon. Gentleman have this review in the first place?
§ Mr. Newton
The background to the review is that, unhappily from my standpoint, the linkage system which I thought that I had put in place two years ago had, to put it bluntly, fallen apart and we were left with no basis.
§ Mr. Newton
For once, the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) is not on the ball. In 1992 or 1993—I forget which year—the Government decided to match the freeze that we had asked for in other areas. In moving the House out of the freeze I re-established a linkage related to civil service pay rates and it proved to be less than durable due to continuing changes in the way in which civil service pay is settled.
Earlier this year, we found that there was no basis for any increase at all next January. It was extremely difficult to see what could be substituted for the linkage that had been broken and it seemed right to ask the SSRB to look at that. The House will know that more than half of those hon. Members who by convention are entitled to sign early-day motions, including nearly 200 Opposition Members, signed an early-day motion demanding a review. It was not unreasonable for the Government to respond to that, but it was clear that that could not be on the basis of a commitment to implement whatever emerged from the review regardless of the Government's judgment as to what was right.
§ Sir David Steel (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale)
Does the Leader of the House agree that one of the most important sentences in the report is in paragraph 36? The review body states:Had the TSRB recommendation of £19,000 per annum been accepted in 1983 and subsequently uprated by the percentage factors which were actually applied each year, it would have produced a Parliamentary salary of £42,300 today, as compared with the current £34,085.The Leader of the House is inviting us to make the mistake that was made in 1983, thus saddling our successors with the embarrassment that we have today.
§ Mr. Newton
The right hon. Gentleman obviously feels strongly on this subject. I note that, and I read with interest that sentence in the report. However, I do not think that it can absolve the Government from making a judgment about the advice to offer in today's circumstances.
§ Mr. Miller
If the Government have a view about what is acceptable in terms of overall pay in the current climate, what evidence did they present to the pay review body on that?
§ Mr. Newton
We gave evidence on these matters in relation to what is sometimes known as affordability and 498 it was very much in line with the evidence that we gave to other pay review bodies last September, but updated. [Interruption.] The review body does not publish any of the evidence that is given to it other than that which it has commissioned from management consultants and other such people. For example, it would not have published what the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) said to it or wrote to it or, indeed, such evidence from anybody else.
§ Mrs. Ann Taylor
Will the Leader of the House confirm that the SSRB had evidence from the Government on affordability before it came to its conclusions and decided on its package?
§ Mr. Newton
The Government put written evidence to the SSRB. We submitted the same evidence for that review as we submitted to all other pay review bodies last September. The only difference was that this year's evidence was slightly updated.
§ Mr. Miller
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I asked the Leader of the House a perfectly reasonable question. The list containing the names of those who gave evidence to the review body contains the name of my hon. Friend the shadow Leader of the House and other hon. Members, but it does not contain the name of anyone in the Government. May we be clear about precisely who gave evidence?
§ Mr. Newton
Evidence was given by, for example, the Lord Privy Seal. As I have said, the Government put in a written statement of evidence on affordability.
§ Mr. Newton
No, I shall not give way again.
The approach that we have adopted in recent years has successfully constrained public sector pay to reasonable and realistic levels. It is one of the policies that has contributed to restraint in other sectors and thus to low inflation, lower interest rates, falling unemployment and faster growth. The question that the House and the Government have to answer is whether we can ask for restraint from others without exercising it ourselves. Uncomfortable as it may be, my answer to that is clear. I urge the House to accept motion 4.
§ .9.4 pm
§ Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)
I am afraid that the House is not looking its most elegant and best. It is perceived outside as in an ugly mood on these matters. We are being portrayed as a bunch of Dickensian money-grubbers, and the very credibility of Parliament will be at stake if we must regularly go through this type of debate.
The problem appears to be a very simple one, because we all know that we have a case for a substantial pay increase. As we all know, the reality is that when we compare our roles with those of others in our communities—with those in the fire service and police 499 service, in local authorities or in the education services—we find that we are not paid realistically or reasonably in comparison with their rates.
The problem is that the public are not prepared to stomach our case, and the reason for that is to be found in the background debate before the setting up of the Nolan committee. The truth is that the public want to see Members of Parliament conducting themselves a little better before they are prepared to stomach such a major increase. Therefore, my strategy is to block the £43,000, because I think that it is wrong.
We have two ways in which to block the £43,000. We can vote for the Government's motion—motion 4. Alternatively, I have tabled an amendment that would effectively block the £43,000 by introducing it in a three-phase process over three consecutive years. In tabling that amendment, I was conscious of the real reason why many hon. Members, particularly Opposition Members, are pressing for the proposals of the Senior Salaries Review Body.
I have discussed the matter with many of my colleagues, and the first reason why they are pressing for the proposals is that they are totally dissatisfied with the arrangements for office costs. The reality is that, through the Fees Office, many hon. Members—I do not do it, because in principle I have decided that I am not prepared to do it—transfer funds from their salary to their secretarial allowance to compensate for the inadequate funding of their offices.
We know from reports in the newspapers even this morning that some researchers and secretaries are still not properly remunerated and that offices are still underfunded. In some cases, hon. Members are providing office accommodation free for their constituents because they do not believe that it is possible to claim enough under their current allowances.
Secondly, many hon. Members are motivated by the difficulties that they know hon. Members have when they leave the House to retire. This morning, I was speaking to a Member of the other place who had spent many years in the House of Commons. He was a senior hon. Member when he left. He told me that his pension is £180 a month, and that, in a recent period of illness, he found that he had to attend the other place because he could not survive on his pension. I really do not think that that is the way to run a modern Parliament. Our constitutional arrangements—if they are constitutional arrangements—surely must be changed to secure the financial viability of pensioners leaving this place on retirement.
The SSRB certainly failed on the first count. Therefore, as I said, my amendment would give hon. Members the opportunity to secure the £43,000 objective over three consecutive years. In the interim period—while the SSRB is still reviewing secretarial costs—my amendment would give hon. Members the opportunity to transfer moneys to their secretarial allowances to see them through the period before us.
The fifth paragraph of my amendment sets a notional £43,000 for pension purposes. The precedent for that is to be found in the 1975 resolution on the proceedings of the House when pay and pensions were dealt with.
The sixth paragraph provides for a salary supplement for pension contribution purposes to secure a pension on £43,000. My amendment is a compromise, and I hope that the House will consider it.
§ Sir Timothy Sainsbury (Hove)
I hope that the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) will excuse my not commenting in detail on his amendment. My view on expenses is that they should fully cover the costs that hon. Members have to incur, but should not be expected to produce a profit and should be properly monitored.
Before I became a Member of Parliament, I was the executive director of a major company, and about a year after I retired from Government, I rejoined the board of that company as a non-executive director. As most hon. Members will know, it is now one of the largest public companies in the country. I am a member of the remuneration committee of that public company.
I recognise straight away that the public service differs from the wealth-creating private sector, but I suggest that the difference in many cases is in there being fewer obvious measures of performance for those in the public sector than for those in the private sector. It is more that difference than any difference in the nature of the tasks and responsibilities.
The remuneration committee of a public limited company advises the board on the pay of executive directors. The objective of a remuneration committee is quite clear; it is to attract, retain and motivate people of the highest calibre to fulfil the duties. I emphasise the words "attract" and "retain". The annual report of the company to which I am referring also makes it clear that, in carrying out its responsibilities, the remuneration committee has regard to comparable salaries and remuneration packages in comparable companies outside the one under consideration.
The review body has been given a similar task in respect of hon. Members and Ministers. It has used similar methods. It has looked carefully at a wide range of comparables—I know that they cannot be exact—and anyone who has read the report would agree that those comparables have some relevance.
I hope that the review body had similar objectives to the remuneration committee of which I am a member, which is to attract and retain men and women of the highest calibre who will offer themselves for election to the House and be prepared to serve as Ministers of the Crown. Surely we can all agree that that is a sensible objective.
I believe that the review body's recommendations would enable us to attract and retain Members of Parliament and Ministers of ability. In my view, it has done a first-class job, and a reading of the report bears that out. It has covered the ground fully and its members are extremely experienced people who deserve the congratulations of the House and of the country on their work. I submit that it is in the interests of future Parliaments and future Governments that we should accept and implement the recommendations in their entirety straight away.
The review body's task was easier in respect of ministerial salaries than for the salaries of hon. Members, because it is easier to evaluate the job and to find comparable jobs in the outside world. I know that it will be of interest, particularly to Opposition Members, to know that ministerial jobs are full time and, as some of my right hon. and hon. Friends know, they are very full time.
501 It struck me, as it may have struck other hon. Members, that the report notes that many hon. Members suggested that improving ministerial pay is a higher priority than increasing their own. That was most commendable. Indeed, I am not aware that any serious commentator does not accept the need for a substantial increase in ministerial pay. There is no need for a detailed argument, as many hon. Members want to speak. The facts and figures are all in the report.
I remind the House, however, that one of the inevitable consequences of failure to make the increase will be that the House will not be able to attract and retain sufficient hon. Members of sufficient ability who are prepared to serve as Ministers. The right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) has pointed out the consequences of having put off making a decision on this issue.
I shall make two final points. First, we frequently hear the old story that there is no need for an increase because there is no shortage of applicants. There is no shortage of applicants for many jobs, including journalists, television newsreaders, lawyers and even supermarket managers. However, we have to ask not whether there is a shortage of applicants but whether we are attracting—and are likely to continue to attract—applicants of the right calibre. We cannot continue to ignore the comparables to which our attention has been drawn, not least in early-day motion 1101, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley).
Secondly, on pages 9 and 10 of volume 2, the review body's report draws attention to the jumps between different ministerial posts. Many hon. Members will be familiar with the general view that it is bad practice to have too large a jump between different levels of responsibility. If we greatly increase Ministers' salaries at all levels—as we must—and if we do not take similar action in respect of ordinary hon. Members, there is a risk that any hon. Member might feel that a successful parliamentary career required him or her to fulfil a Front-Bench job. In addition, those on the Opposition Benches—whichever party they represent—would be automatically deprived of the greater opportunities provided by a ministerial salary.
I emphasise that the undoubted justification for a substantial increase in ministerial salaries is another supporting justification for the report's recommendation on salaries of hon. Members. We need to attract and retain hon. Members of ability—I would suggest outstanding ability—and, if we fail to do so, we risk damaging not so much this Parliament as future Parliaments and the reputation of the House and the country.
The review body has set out what is required and we should accept it. We have put off acting on these matters for far too long. I am sure my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will accept that there will always be a case for restraint, on whatever occasion the matter is brought before the House. Of course there is a case for restraint on this occasion—my right hon. Friend has put it to the best of his ability—but there is also an overwhelming case for taking long delayed action. The longer we put it off, the greater difficulty we shall face and the greater the risk to the House, future Governments and future hon. Members.
502 I cannot foresee a better opportunity to take action that we should have taken a long time ago. I recommend to the House that we accept the report in its entirety as a complete package, as my right hon. Friend suggested, and we should do so this evening.
§ Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)
I rise to address the two amendments standing in my name as chairman of the managing trustees of the parliamentary contributory pension fund. They were tabled also in the names of other managing trustees of the fund from both sides of the House.
It is not generally understood, even by Ministers, that under the Government's new, post-Maxwell pensions legislation, the managing trustees of the parliamentary fund have legal duties and responsibilities in relation to recommendations from the Senior Salaries Review Body—SSRB—where the interests of its members and their dependants are at issue. As those who have read it will have noticed, the SSRB's report demonstrates how inextricably pay and pensions are linked. That link alone eminently justifies the tabling of the amendments in the names of managing trustees of the fund.
It was because of our additional legal duties as managing trustees that we sought counsel's opinion on their effect on our freedom of manoeuvre in relation to the SSRB's recommendations. The advice we received was unequivocal and clear. It was, first, that it is proper for the managing trustees, in considering what is best for Members, to regard recommendations of the review body as a proper guide for their decisions. We were told also that it is not proper for the trustees to have regard to party viewpoints or whether it is the Government's policy not to implement a particular SSRB recommendation.
The House will know that, in the course of the SSRB's recent inquiry, I gave oral evidence on behalf of the managing trustees and made a range of proposals for improving the parliamentary fund. They reflected, in particular, the growing opinion now that more could and should be done to help retired Members, their widows and other dependants.
For pensions, however, the SSRB concluded that our scheme compares well with other public sector schemes and thatthe best comparators are with the public sector".Inevitably, this disappoints the managing trustees, more especially since it takes no account whatever of the fact that the civil service—it is to the civil service that the SSRB looks for the best pay comparator for Members of Parliament—has a non-contributory pension scheme.
As the Leader of the House said in his speech about the parliamentary fund on 17 July last in response to the right hon. Member for Worthing (Sir T. Higgins):there is no getting away from the fact—nor do I seek to disguise it—that this is a contributory scheme and that the civil service scheme is not".—[Official Report, 17 July 1995; Vol. 263, c. 1416.]Nor does the SSRB's treatment of parliamentary pensions take any account of what happened in 1983 when, long before the Maxwell scandal erupted, the then Government decided to raid our fund to offset part of the cost for phasing in a pay award by gratuitously increasing the Member's contribution to a wholly unnecessary 9 per cent. of salary.
503 There was no talk then of the civil service being the best comparator for parliamentary pensions or of the repercussive effects of that huge and unnecessary increase in the Member's contribution on other schemes in the public sector. The decision to impose a rate of 9 per cent. was totally unrelated to the financial needs of our fund at the time, but of direct and substantial benefit to the Exchequer. It was a clear case of manipulating a pension fund at the Members' expense: a technique which was later refined and perfected by others and which the present Government, to their credit, have now legislated against.
That is but one reason why it is not for Ministers or anyone else to complain now of Members of Parliament unfairly benefiting at the expense of the Exchequer. As I have shown in previous debates, the Exchequer contribution was seriously and most unfairly out of line with what Members had to pay over many years after 1983. The Exchequer was also the main beneficiary of the managing trustees' investment policy. For far too long, we were, in fact, victims of our own success: the more that policy succeeded, the more disproportionately it helped the Exchequer.
If the managing trustees are disappointed with the SSRB' s treatment of our proposals to improve the fund, the SSRB, too, has every justification for being disappointed, indeed deeply disquieted, by the way in which its recommendations have been treated by the Government. In his letter to Sir Michael Perry last February, the Prime Minister asked him and his colleagues on the SSRBto undertake a comprehensive review of the level and structure of Parliamentary Pay and Allowances and to make recommendations for the future".Yet on 4 July, some five months later, and within just a week of seeing the SSRB's report, the Prime Minister told this House:The Government … are clear that the recommended increases for Members' and Ministers' pay are too high and that the motions to give these effect should not be passed".—[Official Report, 4 July 1996; Vol. 280, c. 506.]That reply treated the SSRB's report as if it was one about an annual pay round increase that had to be compared with others in the current year and particularly with increases being paid in the public sector, whereas in fact what the report provides and what the SSRB was commissioned to undertake—again I quote the Prime Minister's own words—was a comprehensive review of the level and structure of parliamentary pay and allowances with recommendations for the future.
This is not just a disquieting way to treat the SSRB: it is also damaging to the whole future of independent pay reviews and feeds the prejudices of those who deliberately misrepresent the scope and longer-term significance of the report. It also obscures the strong signal sent to the Government by the SSRB that any new link with civil service pay, which the Prime Minister's parliamentary reply of 4 July says he himself wants to forgewill only be effective ifparliamentarysalaries are set at a correct level".That warning to Ministers not to repeat the mistakes of their predecessors comes at a time when, by common consent, parliamentary pay is worth no more, in real terms, than it was in 1964. Indeed, the most recent league 504 table on parliamentary pay shows the UK in the relegation zone, third from the bottom, about which a leader in The Times on 14 November 1995 said:In the past 30 years the average real income of Britons has risen by 80 per cent.; that of MPs is still the same as it was in 1964".In an apparent criticism of successive Ministers, one as sharp as I have ever seen in any review body report, the SSRB pointedly asserts that the increase it now recommends is needed to make up the ground lost by failure to implement the review body's 1983 report. Had the Top Salaries Review Body recommendation of £19,000 per annum been accepted in 1983 and subsequently uprated by the percentage factors which were actually applied each year, it would have produced a parliamentary salary of some £42,300 today, as compared with the current £34,085. That means that a Member who was in the House then and is still here has lost a cumulative total of £75,800 over the years since 1983, due wholly to the failure to implement the independent review body's report of that year. There can be few other people, here or anywhere else, who have sacrificed more in pay restraint than Members of this House. It makes Job, by comparison, seem guilty of irascible impatience.
It must be said that the only change since the SSRB was commissioned to undertake its inquiry in February and the Government's summary rejection of its report on 4 July is that we are now five months nearer to a general election. It is not a pretty picture, and I entirely agree with those in the media who say that it is high time now for us to be realists and not populists on this issue.
I have respect for any hon. Member who decides not to vote for the recommended pay increase and refuses to accept it. In the case of every increase of parliamentary pay approved by this House over my 32 years here, there have been those who were said to have so decided. But I have to say, as of now, that I understand that there are only two Members on less than full salary. For how long those who refused but now accept the last increase held out, I have no idea. Nor do I know how many will refuse the increase that the independent review body recommends if it is approved by the House. What I am sure they will feel, with me, however, is that it is not for anyone to pressurise Members on how they should vote tonight. While party leaders must state their views, it must ultimately be for individual Members to decide the issue.
Many Members will have foremost in their minds—and rightly so—the effect of what they decide tonight, not for themselves but for their dependants. Some enjoy less robust health than others—as the managing trustees of the pension fund know all too well from their work—and worry more about the security of their families. That is one compelling reason why it is not for anyone to pressurise them on how they should vote in this debate.
Why seek independent advice if one is not prepared to accept it? To consult an independent review body is to imply a readiness to accept its findings and, if the Government succeed tonight, the SSRB will be well justified in asking them to go elsewhere for any future review of parliamentary pay and pensions. At the very least, we shall owe Sir Michael Perry and his colleagues at the SSRB profound apologies—
§ Sir Terence Higgins (Worthing)
I wish to support the review body's recommendations regarding Members of Parliament and Ministers, and to reject the Government's proposals.
It is frequently said that Members of Parliament determine their own pay, but over the years it has in fact been determined by the Government of the day. Whatever the pay review body may have said, time and again Governments, for purely tactical reasons, have phased, staged and reneged on what independent bodies have proposed. The effect of that over 30 years has been that, while the incomes of people in the country on average have increased by 80 per cent., in real terms Members of Parliament have had no increase whatever, and Ministers' pay has more than halved.
Against that background, it was entirely sensible that, in response to the overwhelming demand from early-day motion 351, we set up a review body that would be able to take a strategic view. One must congratulate the review body on its report, produced very much against the clock. It goes into great detail, and makes an overwhelming case for the recommendations to be accepted.
Let us nevertheless be clear in our minds that what is proposed in the report will go nowhere near far enough to restore the position of 30 years ago, which itself was not very good. I took a pay cut when I entered the House, and I dare say that many other hon. Members did so. The review body therefore makes a very moderate proposal in the context of the position over time.
There were exchanges earlier as to what evidence the Government gave. Whatever that evidence was, the review body reached its conclusion having taken into account the evidence submitted to it by the Government. It no doubt moderated what might otherwise have been the conclusions of its report in the light of the Government's evidence. In those circumstances, it would be totally wrong for the Government to reject the view expressed by the review body.
We are told that we must exercise restraint. It is plain from the figures that I quoted that we have exercised restraint for 30 years. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] There is very little evidence that anyone has ever followed our example. In any case, they cannot possibly have had the figures I have quoted if that were so. At all events, we now encounter the extraordinary position, once again, of the Government advancing a tactical argument, saying, "Exercise restraint—only 3 per cent."
What the Government should do, and what Opposition Front Benchers should do, is explain to the public that we have exercised restraint, but the position has deteriorated to the point where it is no longer acceptable—and, in my view, extremely dangerous. So let us hear no more about restraint; the restraint has been exercised, and it is wrong to proceed in the way that the Government have suggested.
We must nevertheless appreciate the point about the link. Time and again in the House we have had problems because we have to review it and vote on it annually. I accept what the Leader of the House said on that point, but we must start from the right basis, and we need to conduct a once-for-all reappraisal of the overall position.
What is remarkable today is the extent to which the media now support that. I cannot recall a previous occasion when that has been so. True, the "Today" 506 programme this morning said that the review body's proposal was nine times the rate of inflation—which is ludicrous, for the reasons that I have just given—but, by and large, from The Sun to The Times, the public are gradually being told what needs to be done. It is important that the Government contribute to that process.
There are frightening dangers regarding recruitment, and, more especially, retention. The crucial point about the House of Commons and the need to get Members of quality, which my right hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Sir T. Sainsbury) rightly emphasised, is the fact that we need a reserve of Members who may become Ministers.
The quality of government will deteriorate if we do not do that. Regardless of what any individual who is putting in a pay claim outside may say, our constituents will lose if we do not have a House of Commons and Ministers of sufficient integrity and quality. It is an honour to be in the House—that is absolutely true. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Hove pointed out, people are bound to take into account the situation outside—and it is analysed in great detail in volume 2 of the report.
The extent to which this place holds the Government to account has been enormously improved by the development of the Select Committee system. However, to a large extent that depends on hon. Members remaining in the House after they have ceased to be Ministers, to serve as Chairmen or members of the Select Committees. Former Ministers who serve on Select Committees, either as Chairmen or members, will not remain in the House with a pay rate of £33,000 a year—it would be absolutely ludicrous to expect them to do so. Therefore, the ability of the House of Commons to hold the Government to account is undermined by the Government's proposals this evening.
Although I shall not be here to benefit from any increase in pay in the next Parliament, I believe that, if we do not take this opportunity tonight, we will face the danger of a deterioration in the quality of government, both at ministerial and at parliamentary level. That is of great importance.
I suspect that we will not have another chance to debate this matter, because it is not likely to come to a head in the next Parliament if we do nothing now. We have to take action now to ensure that the House and the Government who sit in it are efficient. That is what our constituents deserve, and we have to explain that to them in the context of the proposals before us this evening. I profoundly hope that this evening we will carry the package proposed by the review body.
§ Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire)
It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Worthing (Sir T. Higgins) in the debate. For many years, he has flown the flag for reasonable increases in pay and for a better analysis of what Members of Parliament need to do their job. He deserves credit for that, because he has put the case extremely well.
I support the amendments that were spoken to by the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris). I have recently joined the pension trustees of the parliamentary pension fund, and I am distraught and disconcerted by some of the actions we have to take, using our small discretionary fund, to supplement the pensions that are in payment to some former Members and their 507 relatives. It is our duty to do that, as the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe pointed out. We got legal advice that made it quite clear that, as pension trustees, we had a duty to ensure that pensioners' provisions were improved to the maximum available to us.
The right hon. Member for Wythenshawe tabled the amendments as chairman of the trustees—and I pay tribute to the work that he does in that regard. The amendments are important, and I hope that they will be supported by hon. Members, irrespective of their views on the main question of the 3 per cent. versus the package.
This should be a House of Commons matter. The way in which the Government have acted has not allowed hon. Members a proper and unfettered consideration this evening.
The Leader of the House has discharged his duties reasonably well, and I do not hold him personally responsible for our difficulties. However, I think that some of his Cabinet confederates have made it impossible for us to consider the matter properly. No matter what role we play as Members of Parliament—whether party leaders, Ministers or Chairmen of Select Committees—we must make our own decisions, having consulted our consciences. We must be able to defend the decisions we take and the votes we cast this evening to our constituents: the public have that safeguard. That is the proper way to determine whether our decisions are right and proper.
I think that the review body performed a difficult task well in a short space of time. I was surprised that the Leader of the House did not acknowledge its work. I was even more surprised that he did not make it clear whether the Government accept the pay review recommendations but are seeking pay restraint on a voluntary basis. That is my clear recollection of what occurred in 1983: the Government said, "We think that the Top Salaries Review Body report is right, but, in the special circumstances of the case, we should exercise restraint".
The Government do not say that now; they say simply that they do not accept the report's recommendations, but they refuse to say why. I think that the Government should clarify that point. It is important to know whether they accept the report, as the question may return to haunt us in the way that my right hon. Friend the Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) has described. We know that the Government are seeking voluntary pay restraint, but we must know also how they view the recommendations.
It is quite incomprehensible that the Government should commission a report, invite the review body to produce recommendations and then treat them in a summary way without justification. I think that it is totally wrong. I am particularly worried about the sentence in the review body's report in paragraph 79:We note however that unless the primary recommendations relating to these pay levels (recommendations 1 to 13) are implemented as recommended the uprating mechanism will not preserve an appropriate level.If that is correct, it is an extremely serious matter. The report states that the formula that the package produces is appropriate as an uprating mechanism, and will stand the test of time, only if the whole package is accepted. The Government have made it clear that they favour a 3 per cent. increase instead of the package. Therefore, according to the report, the Government would destroy the formula.
508 If that formula is destroyed, it is inevitable that the issue will haunt us time after time. We are being invited to try to make judgments about what we are worth in terms of remuneration—that is unedifying and undignified. I do not have the scales with which to weigh the various elements that one must balance in order to make such a judgment.
Did the pay review body assess the questions put to it correctly and draw the right conclusions? I believe that it used the right general principles and that it considered the right factors. It measured largely the same recommendations and adopted the same approach as the 1983 review body report, as was mentioned earlier. I think that the review body made the right comparisons. It concluded that the salary should be somewhere between £38,000 and £50,000. As the right hon. Member for Worthing said earlier, I think that we can argue that the review body has taken cognisance of the need for some restraint. No one has mentioned the fact that international comparisons are appropriate.
If the question is whether the review body's assessment and conclusions are right, I answer—for myself—in the affirmative. The second question, if the pay review body is right, is whether we are right to accept voluntary pay restraint and override the recommendations. I largely support the arguments that have already been made.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale has said, the 1983 decision was wrong. The clawback of £4,000 or £5,000 has produced this problem, and if we make the same decision this time, we will compound that mistake. We will also diminish the role of hon. Members, and we should not accept that lightly.
I am comfortable with the SSRB's comparisons, and I do not mind my salary being related to those of general practitioners, secondary school heads and others who do responsible jobs, because Members of Parliament carry a similar amount of responsibility. If we vote for 3 per cent., we may force people like myself, who are full-time Members with no outside income, to look for second jobs to be able to educate our children and discharge our duties to our families.
The point has also been made that we might discourage good people from standing for election in future, and I mentioned earlier the problem of folk receiving inadequate pensions after many years' service in the House.
The relationships with the people with whom we work should also be taken into account. Public utility chief executives, civil servants, health board executives and local authority officers are all now paid more than twice—sometimes three times—as much as Members of Parliament.
This issue relates to the status and the authority of Back-Bench Members of the House of Commons. It is essential for the well-being of the House, and therefore indirectly for the benefit of our constituents, that that status and dignity is maintained. We should vote for the package in its entirety, because otherwise we will choose the level of our remuneration, and it is neither sensible, logical nor right that we should be asked to do that. If we do not get the decision right tonight, we will have to go through the whole unedifying spectacle again in five, six or 10 years' time. That is the last thing we want
§ Sir Peter Lloyd (Fareham)
I shall make a few short, disjointed observations. No Member of the House, as the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) suggested, likes the situation in which we so visibly and publicly set our salaries. That is why, from time to time, we have sought to farm the job out to a review body, and why, when that body makes its recommendations and the issue lands back on our plate for a decision, we have always, so far, balked at accepting them.
The recommendation always seems to involve such a large leap. Invariably, we have managed to get the worst of both worlds—bad publicity for the original recommendation, and no publicity for finally setting it aside. That does not mean, however, that I have concluded that this time we should accept the recommendation, although I know that many of my hon. Friends and other hon. Members take a contrary view.
I do not believe that we should ever have handed the problem over to an outside committee. We cannot escape responsibility. It always comes back to us. We know that and the public know it, so it is no good claiming that the recommendation is from an independent committee. The question should have been put to a Committee of the House to make recommendations, after drawing on professional and expert advice as required. We should be debating the recommendations of a Committee of the House tonight.
It is the increasing practice of the House to rely on eminent outsiders to make its inquiries for it, to instruct it and help it to do what it has not got the courage or resources to do for itself. In the long run, that is not good for Parliament or for parliamentary democracy. The way that we have dealt with this issue is an example of what is wrong. We should manage our affairs properly, on our collective judgment, and we should not plead the judgment of others, however distinguished.
It is especially unsatisfactory to refer ourselves to a general review body on senior salaries. I make no criticism of the review body's able members, but the very act of referring the decision suggests that being an elected Member of Parliament is just another public sector job, comparable to a range of others. That is what we do when we accept a report that in management consultancy terms is sensibly argued. If I remember correctly, the comparators that found favour were head teachers of large schools, lieutenants-colonel and grade 5 civil servants. They are all excellent people with responsible jobs. In some ways, their jobs are more responsible than the work of a Back-Bench Member. His job, however, is very different and there is no meaningful comparison.
I fear that if we accept the report we shall go much further down the road of making the job of a Member just another public sector job, when it is both much more and less. Perhaps we are inevitably moving towards membership of this place being just another middle-grade public sector professional occupation. I do not believe, however, that we should hurry further down that road until we have thought about the consequences rather more.
Our most obvious and unique characteristic is that we are elected to serve for a whole Parliament, no more and no less. It would be more in keeping with that fact and our status if we set our salary for the whole of a new Parliament just before the dissolution of the previous one, 510 with no basket of public sector salaries or three-year reviews to give us increases in between. In that way former Members and new candidates could face the electorate with a known figure for remuneration until they faced the electorate again. That would be much healthier and much more suitable for elected representatives.
I know that my suggestion will not be popular with many of my colleagues but I believe that we should start again in Committee, and quickly, to settle the matter before the next election. We should settle it ourselves and not look outside for guidance, save for advice, facts and professional information that we choose to take into account.
§ Mr. Peter Shore (Bethnal Green and Stepney)
This is a thoroughly disagreeable subject for us all. The sooner that we can get our pay linked sensibly to an outside comparator that will automatically adjust our salaries to take into account the cost of living and other factors, the better it will be for us all.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) said, we are in a period when public opinion is hostile to Members and cynical about our motivations and activities. In such a climate, it is tempting to lie low and do nothing to inflame our critics. That is the course of appeasement, however, and I do not recommend it. I think that we should accept the recommendation, as the right hon. Member for Worthing (Sir T. Higgins) so clearly put it. Indeed, we should accept all the recommendations in full.
I am seriously contemplating applying for a private Member's Bill in the next Session. My Bill would require by law all journalists who write about Members' pay to reveal at the foot of their columns the pay that they receive as journalists and what their editors pay themselves as well.
We are, of course, embarrassed by this subject. It appears that we are in a position to decide for ourselves our own worth—a thoroughly disagreeable position to be in. But that is not what we have done. The recommendations that are before the House have not been brought before us by a Select Committee, having carefully examined all the relevant factors. The right hon. Member for Fareham (Sir P. Lloyd) suggested that that would be a preferable approach. Instead, we have deliberately put the matter before not the Top Salaries Review Body but the Senior Salaries Review Body, under the chairmanship of Sir Michael Perry. It is an independent body that was set up for the precise purpose of reviewing pay and other awards for those employed, as we inevitably are, in the public sector, although we have a very distinctive position within it.
The report and the findings of the review body were not just plucked out of the air; they were the result of a number of separate studies, as anyone who has looked at volume 2 of the report will know. First, Hay Management Consultants conducted a review to examine the various comparators that could be appropriately cited as giving some guidance to the weight of the responsibilities that we bear in this place compared with people outside. The consultants recommended that we be paid in the range of £43,000 to £47,000 a year.
Secondly, a questionnaire was sent to Members of Parliament, asking about staffing and the hours of work that they undertook. More than 400 of our colleagues 511 responded and said that the average working week during a Session was 71 hours, and that during recesses it was no fewer than 51 hours.
Thirdly, the review body asked a distinguished academic at the university of Exeter to conduct a study of the rewards received by Members of other Parliaments in western Europe and in parts of the Commonwealth. It found that, compared to countries of a similar size in Europe, we are paid less than German, Italian and French Members of Parliament. We are not paid as much as Members of Parliament in New Zealand and Australia, either. I think that it produced pretty conclusive evidence to justify the report's recommendations.
There were a number of additional points of interest in the report, one of which has been alluded to, so I shall do no more than briefly repeat it. The review body found that, following changes in the cost of living and so on, if we had accepted the 1983 award, our salary would now be equivalent to £42,300 a year, which compares with the £43,000 that the review body recommends. The report also contained interesting information about the previous earnings of our most recent recruits to the House of Commons. The 100 or more Members of Parliament who came in at the 1992 general election subsequently supplied the information that 61 per cent. of them experienced a drop in pay. Their average pay was £57,000 a year, and their median pay was £38,000 a year. That is pretty suggestive.
People are entitled to say that there is no lack of applicants for the job of Member of Parliament. I have no doubt whatever that if we were to halve our present pay—even abolish it altogether—there would be no problem in filling the House of Commons. The trouble is that the applicants would be people of a rather special kind—those with substantial incomes who would not need to worry about receiving any pay from their job as Member of Parliament. The question then would be: what range of abilities would they supply?
I should have thought it self-evident that if the pay of Members of Parliament were to fall far below what could be obtained in equivalent occupations outside, and if membership of the House entailed a drop in earnings, with the inevitable effects that that would have on the families of those involved, many able people would be deterred and there would be strong pressure on Members to take on additional paid work outside Parliament.
The work of a Member of Parliament has become, for most of us, a full-time job, and I believe that we should be paid accordingly. I do not think that the legitimate outside activities of Members of Parliament should be banned. Following the Nolan report, a Select Committee considered the matter carefully and, in particular, opposed consultancies involving paid advocacy. That is now a rule of the House. I merely suggest that legitimate outside activities should be declared, and that it should be left to a Member's constituents to judge whether, in terms of service to them and contribution to the House, that Member is performing satisfactorily.
I cannot think of any group of public sector employees whose pay has been reviewed less frequently than ours, and I know of no group of public sector employees who have rejected a substantial pay increase recommended by an independent review body. Following our rejection of the 1983 recommendations of the Top Salaries Review 512 Body, it would be ridiculous for us to compound that error now by rejecting the findings of the independent Review Body on Senior Salaries.
The Prime Minister specifically asked the review body for an early report. He has received it, and in my view we should now accept it.
§ 10 pm
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)
My message to the House is that it should show courage and do what it believes to be right, however inconvenient that may be. As many hon. Members have said, it is ridiculous for the Government to set up a Senior Salaries Review Body, with support from hon. Members in all parts of the House—including a large number of Back Benchers—only to disregard it with gay abandon. The right hon. Members for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) and for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris), my right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Sir T. Higgins) and the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) have done the House and the country a service by presenting such an excellent case.
I have been in the House for a quarter of a century. Every time the Top Salaries Review Body—or its present-day equivalent, the Review Body on Senior Salaries—has reported, I have supported its recommendations religiously, believing that experts have been asked by the House to rule on what they consider to be the right level of remuneration for Members of Parliament. We would be ill advised to disregard the recommendations of such experts, as the House did—with very unfortunate results—in 1983. We have heard what the level of our salary would be today if that stupid, irresponsible decision had not been made. I believe that it was influenced by a number of people with large private incomes.
I intend to concentrate on one issue—the car mileage allowance. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House said that he was unaware that any statistics, such as illustrative vehicle running costs, were available from the RAC's motoring service. It may not be precisely the same formula as that relating to Members of Parliament, but I have here illustrative vehicle running costs from the RAC, copyright 29 November 1995, relating to all petrol-engine cars from 1,000 cc to 2,500 cc.
Having looked at the two volumes of the review body's report and its surveys and studies, I believe that virtually no evidence was taken about true motoring costs and maintenance. That seems extraordinary. [Interruption.] I have studied the report, as has my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley). The recommendation that there should be one standard rate of mileage allowance whatever the car, wherever the Member lives and whatever the size of his or her constituency, discriminates against Members who represent constituencies many miles from London. My constituency is only 180 miles from London, but other hon. Members represent constituencies twice that distance, or even more, from London. In addition, Members such as my hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) represent large constituencies in England, involving large constituency duty mileage.
It is not right that the House should legislate to force people not to travel by car, which they rightly choose to do because of the distance that they have to travel. 513 They should be allowed to travel comfortably, to arrive rested and to travel safely on some of the country's more difficult roads and motorways. They should not be expected to subsidise their parliamentary and constituency travelling.
Under the report's proposals, Members with smaller cars will make a huge profit. Those with vehicles under 1800 cc will make a huge profit from the scheme, but Members who need to travel in cars over, shall we say, 2000 cc will lose out. I make no apology for the fact that I travel in a Range Rover, at the top of the range. I choose to do so.
I first bought a Range Rover when that company was threatened with takeover to show my support for what is the best four-wheel-drive vehicle in the world. Having bought it, why should I dispose of it? I am on my fourth Range Rover and I am proud of it. It enables me to travel safely. I arrive here and back in my constituency rested, and I work seven days a week for the majority of the year.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)
Would not the hon. Gentleman be even more rested and would not it be a little environmentally better if Macclesfield had used the railway?
§ Mr. Winterton
Yes. In an intervention that I have just heard—I will not say from where—an hon. Member has said that we do not have a station. We have quite a good station and I am trying to get it improved by the new authorities that run the rail service, but, unfortunately, the timing of trains does not make it possible for me to undertake the range of engagements that I wish to undertake and that my constituents wish me to undertake. It is not possible for me to travel by rail or from the excellent international airport at Manchester. I care to travel by car. I respect the hon. Gentleman greatly for his experience of the House. More often than not, another Member of Parliament happens to travel with me and the taxpayer gets damn good value for money as a result. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name her."] I refer to my hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Mrs. Winterton).
It is immoral, illogical and without justification to introduce legislation that positively discriminates against Members of Parliament who have chosen the right vehicle to travel to and from their constituencies, and to travel within their constituencies. Little or no evidence was taken for the report. I submitted an amendment that, sadly, was not selected. It proposed that the matter should be submitted to a special Select Committee of the House so that it could take proper evidence and come up with the right figure.
I am prepared to have the current figure reduced, although the latest RAC figures, based on its statistics, show that a 2500 cc car should qualify for a mileage allowance of 79.7p per mile. I would look to a realistic figure of around 65p a mile for the first 20,000 miles and a figure slightly below that for any mileage over that, but the current figure is without justification. It is immoral, unfair and positively discriminates against constituencies a long way from London. It could put certain Members in difficulty and in danger when they travel in all weathers, throughout the 12 months. I ask that this matter be looked at again. If it is not, I shall not be able to support the motion on car mileage allowance.
§ 10.9 pm
§ Mr. Doug Hoyle (Warrington, North)
The House would be badly advised to try to interfere in the married bliss of the hon. Members for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) and for Congleton (Mrs. Winterton).
The right hon. Member for Fareham (Sir P. Lloyd) made a dangerous suggestion. The House would be condemned if it continued to set hon. Members' salaries. That would be to go down the wrong path. I hope that the Leader of the House and the Prime Minister will not try to make this a party political issue because, as the right hon. Member for Worthing (Sir T. Higgins) said, the matter has the strong support of hon. Members in all parties in the House. There is a strong feeling that we should put an anomaly right that has been with us for 20 years.
It is ludicrous that the House has fudged the issue in the past. In 1975, it did not accept the recommended amount, but allowed it for pension purposes. That lasted for four years. In 1981, we thought that we had caught up, but in 1983 we again fell behind and again fudged the issue. The review body was right to say that if its 1983 recommendation had been implemented and kept up year by year, lo and behold we would now be drawing a salary of £42,300.
After examining our pay against that of other public servants such as head teachers, police superintendents and civil servants, the review body recommends a salary of £43,000. There are 114 employees in the House who earn more than hon. Members and it is time that we put right that anomaly as well.
There will never be a right time to raise the pay of Members of Parliament, because the media will always be against it although, as we have heard, some people in the media earn more than Members of Parliament. I agree with the proposal of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore), that when journalists criticise us in their columns, they should print the salaries.
I was surprised to note that we were criticised by Christine Hancock, the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, and by David Hart, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers. If a comparability study had been carried out among their members and an independent body had reported, I do not think that either of those two worthy people would have recommended that their members should accept less than the body's recommendation. I took the trouble to find out what they earn. I could find the salaries only up to 1994, and in that year Christine Hancock was on a salary—wait for it—of £74,262. For the same year, David Hart had a salary of £68,640. I do not think that we should be lectured by either of those two.
The review body was right to say that 76 per cent. of office costs relate to employment. I, and I am sure other hon. Members, object to the fact that the media lump in the office costs and somehow pretend that that is the total pay of hon. Members. It is time to separate that cost and it is also time to ensure that our staff, who are our most valuable asset, are paid the correct amount. I urge the Leader of the House to accept the review body's suggestion that further work is needed on the matter and to look at office costs, particularly the employment of staff. While we retain their employment, perhaps the cost should be removed from the office costs allowance.
515 If we again do not have the courage to carry through the suggestion of an independent review body—I am amazed that the Government are not carrying it through, having asked for the review—we shall miss a further opportunity, and possibly the final opportunity. The opportunity to put matters right and to bring hon. Members' pay into line with that of others could be lost, not only for now but for ever.
§ Sir David Mitchell (North-West Hampshire)
As many hon. Members have said, it is very difficult for Members of Parliament to be in the position of having to decide their own salaries. There is a genuine difficulty, in that I—like many other hon. Members who have spoken in the debate—do not know exactly what should be the right level of pay. However, I suppose that one criterion might be comparison with the status and salary of senior staff of the House. That is why I tabled a question, to which I received an answer yesterday, which revealed that 130 members of the staff of the House are paid more than hon. Members.
I should like to ask the Leader of the House whether he thinks that the value of a Member of Parliament compares with, for example, that of the director of works. A Member of Parliament is paid less than the parliamentary director of works, less than the deputy director of works, less than the fire safety manager, less than the furnishing manager, less than the works manager, less than the quantity surveyor and even less than the executive chef.
Last year, I had a comparison made between exactly what the purchasing power of my salary was when I was first elected as a Member of Parliament, in 1964, and what it was last year. The fact is that there was almost no difference between my salary's purchasing power when I entered the House 32 years ago and its purchasing power last year.
Is there any other profession which has had the enormous increase in work load that hon. Members have experienced over the past 30 years and which has had no real salary increase? In what other job is that true—dustman, train driver, clerk, journalist, newspaper editor, Lobby correspondent, shop assistant or civil servant? Name any profession, but not one has had no real increase in 32 years' service of one form or another.
We require an outside body to determine what we should be paid for our status and for our salary. We now have such a report. I suggest that it should be implemented for hon. Members and for scandalously underpaid Ministers.
§ Mr. Chris Mullin (Sunderland, South)
I do not suppose that my speech will do my chances in the shadow Cabinet election any good, but I have heard that that election will be abolished to spare me the embarrassment.
I welcome the review body's recommendation to abolish higher mileage allowance rates. It has always seemed to me to be absolutely indefensible that, contrary to all the rhetoric coming out of this place, we have an allowances system that actively encourages the use of large cars—I am sorry that the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) has left the Chamber—at the expense of public transport. I hope that the House has 516 the courage to grasp that nettle today, because, if we do not, we shall forfeit the right to be taken seriously on transport and environmental policy.
I welcome the recommendations on the office costs allowance, and I shall vote for the recommended increase.
Unhappily, amendment (m), which I tabled, has not been selected. It is about linkage. We always seem to relate our pay to that of some anonymous civil servant. I favour—this should appeal to any socialists who happen to be present—linking it to the state pension, so that we irrevocably link future increases to the fortunes of the less prosperous of our constituents rather than to some anonymous civil servant.
My hon. Friend the Member for Warrington, North (Mr. Hoyle) said that we should not fudge the issue of wages. I am not in favour of fudging it, either. I am totally opposed to any rise above the rate of inflation. The issue is not whether we are underpaid for the job that we do—there are many opinions about that—but whether our pay is so inadequate that we constitute a special case, entitled to exemption from the rules that Governments of all political persuasions seek to impose on others. I do not believe that any reasonable person could come to that conclusion. By no stretch of the imagination are we a special case.
I do not accept any of the arguments that have been advanced by those who advocate the increase. My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) and the right hon. Member for Worthing (Sir T. Higgins) argued that our remuneration has fallen below the level of the 1960s, or at least has not increased since then. That is nonsense. In the 1960s, a Member of Parliament was, quite wrongly, expected to pay for his own office costs and his or her London accommodation. Those items are now, quite rightly, covered by allowances. We are incomparably better off than we were in the 1960s, and we should not pretend otherwise.
I do not accept that £34,000 is a low salary. We are in the top 10 per cent. of income earners. We all earn more than the overwhelming majority of our constituents. I appreciate that that will be less true of those who represent the more prosperous areas, but the fact remains that £34,000 a year is a good salary, even in the most prosperous areas.
I have heard it said that we must raise salaries in order to attract better-quality candidates. The truth is that all parties are heavily over-subscribed with applicants for winnable seats. That is especially true of the Conservative party. If it was left up to the free market on which most Conservative Members are so keen, we would be paying ourselves less, not more.
We all know why the crisis—if I might call it that—has arisen. It has arisen because Lord Nolan has closed off some, but by no means all, of the opportunities that many Conservative Members take for granted of supplementing their income.
§ Mr. Mullin
I have not written a book since before I was elected. Many Conservative Members take for granted the fact that they can supplement their income by selling their services to outside interests. Others may have climbed on the bandwagon, but that is how it began. That is why we are in this crisis—because of Nolan.
517 I can never recall seeing Conservative Members as upset as on the day that Nolan reported. One said to me, within the hearing of the catering staff—he was a multi-millionaire, so I do not suppose he has to worry too much—"No Conservative can live on £34,000 a year." Believe me, I understand. By definition, Tory Members tend to represent the leafier areas of the country. They belong to a party where status is everything. They rub shoulders every day with people who earn a great deal more than they do and, to put it crudely, in the past 17 years, they have handed out a great deal of dosh to their friends and many of them want their cut.
Some Tory Members take the view—[Interruption.] Tory Members are often seeking to put clear blue water between the two sides of the House. Speaking for myself, an ocean of clear blue water separates us on this issue.
Some Tory Members take the view that the nation should be grateful to them for taking the time off from making money to come and govern us. I do not share that view and—I suspect—nor does the nation.
I apologise for making a party point, but I believe that we are all being dragged into what is essentially a Tory crisis in the hope of giving respectability to a proposition that is utterly without merit.
There is a more serious point. It is not healthy in a democracy for too wide a gap to grow up between the life styles of elected representatives and those whom they represent. I believe that as a matter of principle and that, as far as possible, Members of Parliament should share the same sunshine and the same rainfall as those whom they represent. We already earn more than 90 per cent. of our constituents, and that is enough. There is no justification for widening the gap.
The Government are recommending that we support an increase that corresponds to the rate of inflation. That is the only credible position that any Government could take, and Opposition Members should bear that in mind. I assume that we are serious about forming a Government and that we have not just been playing for the past 17 years. It is simply incredible for members of a party that aspires to government to award themselves a 26 per cent. increase, while claiming to give priority to combating inflation and urging restraint on everyone else. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will bear that in mind when we come to vote.
§ Mr. Peter Bottomley (Eltham)
I should declare that I have more interest in the outcome of the debate than most hon. Members, as I may become a ministerial widower at some stage. Having said that, let me refer to one or two points that have been raised in the debate.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Fareham (Sir P. Lloyd) recommended that we ought to set the pay to come into effect at the beginning of a Parliament and that it should not change during that Parliament. I support that. Sadly, it is not one of the recommendations and there is no amendment that would allow it to happen. I believe that there should not be an annual pay increase for Members.
I also believe that we should reduce the number of Members and that during this Parliament—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Bottomley
During this Parliament, we should pass a resolution giving instructions to the boundary commissioners that next time there is a boundary change—in 10 or 12 years' time—the number of constituencies should be reduced to about 450. That would give every hon. Member about the same number of constituents as my right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Sir T. Higgins) currently represents. That would demonstrate that, although there should be a pay increase, Members are willing to accept—at the next convenient moment—a greater work load. We should also recognise that many right hon. and hon. Members already represent that number with distinction. It is not easy, but it is possible.
The hon. Member for Warrington, North (Mr. Hoyle) mentioned the general secretary of the Royal. College of Nursing. She makes worthwhile comments, she clearly has administrative ability and she is the kind of person who could become a Secretary of State. Why should she have to take a pay cut of £10,000 a year, were she to be Secretary of State for Health, for example? Another example is one of the head teachers represented by David Hart. Why should the head of Holland Park comprehensive take a £25,000-a-year pay cut as the Member of Parliament for Holland park? It does not make sense.
I received today a bit of paper about the pay of the assistant director of housing in the London borough of Greenwich, which says that it is lower than pay in 24 other London boroughs. It is not the average or median pay, but below that received in other boroughs. It is £55,000 a year. Is there anybody in the House at the moment who has served as an assistant director of housing? Such people may not be put off just by Members' pay. There may be other reasons why they are not applying to be Members of Parliament.
Let us consider a director of social services who receives £70,000. I may not have met any Members who are former directors of social services, but that could be because the level of pay is not encouraging them. When was the last time that someone of lieutenant-colonel rank came into the House? I think that the answer is 20 years ago. When was the last time that the finance director of a medium-sized shire district council came into Parliament, let alone a grade 5 civil servant or a hospital consultant?
Pages 6 and 7 of volume 2 of the review body report, which, as far as I can see, have not been reproduced in our national newspapers and, up to today, have not been talked about by our national broadcasters, make the point.
When someone says, as a professor of community care did in a letter to me today,I'm not sure that most M.P.s are worth the proposed salaries",it might be better to improve Members of Parliament rather than cut pay. Why should someone who is a professor of community care not feel attracted to Parliament?
Let us take some of the people who comment on our affairs. I invited someone from the Press Gallery to come down to the Chamber and make his point about our pay. He said, "It would cost me a £12,000-a-year pay cut to do that." I am sure that being in the Press Gallery and commenting on our affairs is more important and deserves more pay, because those people have to listen to our speeches—at least when they are in the Gallery.
519 Let us consider what is facing the House today. Are we going to say that £43,000 is too much for Members of Parliament to earn? I do not think that anyone believes that. We should say to the Government—we can understand why they have to take their 3 per cent. line—that, in future, when a review body is set up or asked to report on pay or conditions, its report should be put to the House for a vote. Then, if they wanted, the Government could table an amendment to bring the proposal down to another level. That way would be more open and straightforward.
I recognise that the amendment that I tabled to the first motion moved by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, which would have had the effect that I described, has not been selected. Nevertheless, we ought to be willing to say for ourselves, for those who will follow us and for those who will compete for selection with us, that we should set a rate of pay that is not a disincentive to parliamentary service—not one that would make anybody rich, but one that is worth while, which would encourage some of those in comparable jobs in the private and public sector to come forward.
A fair number of other points could be made. Many hon. Members can manage on present levels of pay. It depends on the family life cycle, whether one has a spouse who is earning and all kinds of things. At one stage during my parliamentary service, I faced the choice of going broke or going out. I do not think that my service here is that important by itself, but that choice is illustrative of the pressures on hon. Members.
Before we finish with ourselves, we should say to the pension trustees and the special fund that we ought to be encouraged to pay more in voluntarily, so that more of those who have served before, retired and may be experiencing hard times can have a better deal. We cannot put that burden on the taxpayer, but we could return to paying an extra 3 per cent. of the higher salary to a fund that can be used with discretion. That would be playing fair with those who have gone before.
My recommendation on the main issue is that we must decide between the King's men, the levellers, the cowards and the courageous. I think that we should be courageous.
§ Mrs. Ann Taylor (Dewsbury)
I start by mentioning a point that has so far not been mentioned. It is appropriate for the House to thank the Clerks of the House of Commons for the extraordinary work that they have had to do in the past 24 hours on the amendments and the selection. I will not mention their pay, but I will mention that they were here at 5.30 this morning, just as hon. Members are on some occasions.
There are many occasions on which the Leader of the House and shadow Leader of the House can make joint recommendations to the House on matters that concern the House. I had hoped that tonight would be such an occasion. I had hoped that the Leader of the House would put forward a resolution in partnership with me, and that our joint resolution would solve many of the problems exercising people's minds this evening.
The matters that we are discussing should be decided by individual Members of Parliament, which is why Opposition Members have a completely free vote this evening. Several issues are being discussed together: the pay of Members of Parliament; Ministers' pay; pensions; 520 the office costs allowance; and travel. All those issues have one thing in common: none of them should be determined by Members of Parliament. My starting point is the fact that I have never believed that I, as a Member of Parliament, should determine my own salary; nor should we do so collectively. That important principle must govern our decisions this evening.
When the Prime Minister referred the issue of Members' pay and related matters to the SSRB, I was involved, through the usual channels, in discussions about the nature of that reference. Obviously, we do not disclose the details of such discussions, but it is no secret that the very last item on the list of what the review should cover was inserted, at my request, on behalf of colleagues. If hon. Members turn to the report and look at the letter that the Prime Minister sent to Sir Michael Perry, who heads the SSRB, they will see that the final point in that letter is that the review should covera linkage to provide the basis for annual uprating in future years without the need for Parliamentary decision.That point is key for me and for many colleagues on both sides of the House.
I wish that we did not have to vote on accepting that independence. I wish that we could legislate away our right ever to make decisions on this matter again. That is not possible, but it is important that we establish for the future the principle that Members of Parliament should not determine their own pay.
At the invitation of the SSRB, and as shadow Leader of the House, I gave evidence to the review body. Some of the points that I raised have been taken on board; others have not. But whether the SSRB accepted or rejected the points that I made should not govern my decision on how to vote this evening. We should not try to cherry-pick the recommendations before us, because if we believe that we should not make that decision, and if such a reference has been made, we should accept the package that has been put before us, with all the recommendations, regardless of whether they coincide with the evidence that we gave.
The key section of the SSRB package and the report is not what it recommends on Members' pay, pensions, Ministers' pay, office costs or travel; it is recommendation 14, which recommends that a review mechanism be applied automatically to the salaries of Members of Parliament and Ministers. The decision to accept that this evening is the only way to get rid of the ridiculous situation of Members voting on their own salary on an annual basis.
It is important to consider all that the SSRB says on this issue. It is no use the Leader of the House telling us later that he will put in place a similar type of review mechanism, because anyone who has read the SSRB report carefully will have read in paragraph 13 on page 2:We needed to find a new automatic linkage for uprating in future years.The SSRB went on to identify the linkage that it recommends.
The key line in the document for tonight's debate may be the line that says of the new linkage that it will be effective only if
salaries are set at the recommended levelnow. That means that, if we do not accept the package, we will not be accepting what the SSRB has said is the only successful method of linking pay to other 521 mechanisms that ensures that the House will not have to deal with this in future. If we accept what the Leader of the House suggests, this issue will return to the House time after time, as the SSRB report says.
We have heard a little tonight about the need for restraint, and I know that some Members have taken what the Prime Minister said at face value, but this is a very peculiar form of restraint. What is being suggested is a 3 per cent. increase, but it is 3 per cent. only six months after the last increase and only nine months before the next increase. I do not know if that is the message that the Government will send to public sector workers throughout the country, but I am pretty sure that that is not the message that they have sent out before.
The most important point to bear in mind is that, if we do not accept the package as a whole, we cannot avoid being told on every occasion that this is not the appropriate time to solve the problem of Members' pay. I have looked back over many debates in the past 15 years, and in every debate Ministers have said, "This is not the appropriate time. The problem will be solved in future." Here we are, in 1996, still trying to deal with problems that have confronted the House regularly in the past 20 years.
The Leader of the House said that the Government had put forward evidence to SSRB on affordability, and he said that that evidence was given by the Lord Privy Seal, Viscount Cranborne. I find it slightly surprising—
§ Mr. Newton
I do not think I said that, but in any case I said that the Government had presented written evidence to the SSRB on affordability. Someone had said that no Minister had given evidence; the fact is that the Lord Privy Seal did. Those two points are distinct.
§ Mrs. Taylor
I am glad to have the clarification from the right hon. Gentleman. He was asked from the Opposition Benches who gave the evidence, and I do not know whether he understood or heard correctly the question to which he was replying when he said the Lord Privy Seal.
I accept that, in other ways that have not been revealed to us, the Government gave evidence to the SSRB on affordability. It is certainly the case that members of the Government gave evidence to the SSRB. I have just looked at the list of those who gave oral evidence. Six Labour Members gave oral evidence, as did 12 Conservative Members, including three Cabinet Ministers, two Whips and two junior Ministers. The SSRB had the opportunity to take on board the views of Ministers, because at least seven gave evidence to it. It then came up with the report before the House.
I found the Leader of the House's statement on mileage costs and the rates that are available at the moment—he suggested that it might be possible to continue them—absolutely astonishing. I presume that that kind of statement leads to headlines such as the one that appeared in The Daily Telegraph today: "MPs must choose pay rise or perks". That is an offensive approach to deal with this issue. What message are Ministers trying to get across? Is it, "Take 3 per cent. and pretend that you have not had a pay increase, but go out and buy a large car and milk the mileage"? I cannot believe that the Leader of the House is comfortable with his proposal. In the post-Nolan era, this is a ridiculous message to send out to the community.
522 I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin)—whose name is also on the motion—has said that, if the Minister refuses to move the motion, he will move it and a vote will take place.
Every year since the last election, the Leader of the House has had to stand at the Dispatch Box and recommend to Members of Parliament that they vote for a pay freeze or that they vote for an increase double the rate of inflation, and that they vote for an increase in Ministers' salaries. We cannot carry on like this. The only way to take this issue out of our hands is to vote for the package that the SSRB has recommended.
§ Mr. Rowe
I understand that many hon. Members may feel that it is inappropriate for me to speak at this time. I have sat through the whole debate—and a number of hon. Members who are complaining have not. First, I repeat what I have said on many occasions when we have debated this issue: it is 30 years since I entered the grade in the civil service to which we used to have our salaries linked—30 years later, that cannot be described as the career progression of a greedy man.
Secondly, it is worth suggesting—as I did to the Senior Salaries Review Body—that a good comparator might be a fixed proportion of the average salaries of the editors of the tabloid newspapers. One of the things that affects the public interest in our salaries is the public's perception of what this place is for and what Members of Parliament do. What we do here is arcane to most of our constituents—they have no idea what we do or whether we do it well or badly. They have to make a judgment based on comments from Members of Parliament and the media.
I believe that we should accept the report's recommendations, but that we should also look seriously at how the House of Commons serves the nation in circumstances that have changed beyond all recognition in the past 30 or 40 years. The nature and the volume of our work and our relationships with other bodies—such as the European Union—have changed dramatically. The mechanisms for dealing with those changes are often out of date and do not function particularly effectively. It is time that we examined those issues.
I agree entirely with those hon. Members who believe that there are too many Members of Parliament. We should look at the numbers. Perhaps we should start rationing the number of Members of Parliament who come from the same household—but that may be unkind.
Finally, as we may find in the Lobbies tonight, I believe that the payroll vote is much too large. We have more than 150 first step agencies that are supposed to have substantially reduced the load on Ministers. In those circumstances, we do not need so many Ministers. I suggested to the review body—I stand by my comments—a perfectly satisfactory way of paying Ministers properly. I submitted that the Prime Minister could have a lump sum at his disposal from which he could pay Ministers. The more Ministers there were, the smaller their salaries would be and vice versa. That would cut the payroll vote and would work to our advantage.
§ Mr. Newton
Even without being prompted, I have got the message that the House wishes to move to a vote. Therefore, I shall make only three quick points.
First, I draw the attention of the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) to the fact that paragraph 25 of the report says specifically that the Government submitted general evidence on the affordability issue. Secondly, the hon. Lady knows that I have made every effort in the past four years to establish and to preserve an automatic linkage. I think that the basket that our proposals establish tonight—even with the 3 per cent.—is capable of preserving, and should preserve, a workable linkage with the basket of civil service salaries.
§ Mrs. Ann Taylor
The Leader of the House must acknowledge that the SSRB says specifically that the linkage will not work unless we start it at the right salary point.
§ Mr. Newton
I must admit that I am puzzled about that. A linkage should work—I think that this one will work—whatever the level of pay. The level is one point and the speed with which it increases is another.
§ Mr. Miller
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way, as I have not had an opportunity to speak before now. Paragraph 25 of the report states:If, for example, the Government wishes to constrain the movement of Parliamentary pay by application of the same criteria it has attached to other public sector pay reviews, it has not said so.
§ Mr. Newton
That is a different point. It was suggested that no evidence was given on the question of affordability, but the report says that it was.
Finally, I must comment on the propositions advanced by the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) and the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris). I wholly agree with the hon. Member for Dewsbury about cherry-picking within the package as a whole by those who favour the whole package. I point out to those with amendments relating to what amounts to retrospection in pensions that the SSRB rejects that specifically in paragraph 63 of its report. It refers to the undesirability of retrospective increases and states categorically that it does not recommend backdating. Therefore, I cannot commend those amendments to the House.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 168, Noes 317.527
|Division No. 191]||[10.54 pm|
|Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey)||Blair, Rt Hon Tony|
|Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)||Boswell, Tim|
|Alexander, Richard||Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Brandreth, Gyles|
|Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy||Brazier, Julian|
|Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset)||Bright, Sir Graham|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)|
|Barnes, Harry||Brown, N (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)|
|Bayley, Hugh||Browning, Mrs Angela|
|Bellingham, Henry||Burns, Simon|
|Benton, Joe||Burt, Alistair|
|Beresford, Sir Paul||Butler, Peter|
|Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)||Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas|
|Campbell-Savours, D N||Lynne, Ms Liz|
|Canavan, Dennis||MacKay, Andrew|
|Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Lincoln)||Mackinlay, Andrew|
|Chapman, Sir Sydney||McLoughlin, Patrick|
|Chisholm, Malcolm||Maddock, Diana|
|Clappison, James||Maitland, Lady Olga|
|Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ru'clif)||Major, Rt Hon John|
|Clelland, David||Malone, Gerald|
|Coe, Sebastian||Marland, Paul|
|Congdon, David||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Conway, Derek||Marshall, John (Hendon S)|
|Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)||Martlew, Eric|
|Coombs, Simon (Swindon)||Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Merchant, Piers|
|Cran, James||Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)|
|Cummings, John||Mills, Iain|
|Cunningham, Roseanna||Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)|
|Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)||Moss, Malcolm|
|Darling, Alistair||Mowlam, Marjorie|
|Davies, Chris (L'Boro & S'worth)||Mudie, George|
|Denham, John||Mullin, Chris|
|Deva, Nirj Joseph||Newton, Rt Hon Tony|
|Devlin, Tim||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Dewar, Donald||Nicholson, David (Taunton)|
|Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen||Oppenheim, Phillip|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Ottaway, Richard|
|Dover, Den||Page, Richard|
|Elletson, Harold||Paice, James|
|Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Pope, Greg|
|Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)||Porter, David (Waveney)|
|Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)||Portillo, Rt Hon Michael|
|Evans, Roger (Monmouth)||Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)|
|Ewing, Mrs Margaret||Primarolo, Dawn|
|Faber, David||Richards, Rod|
|Fabricant, Michael||Riddick, Graham|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman||Robinson, Mark (Somerton)|
|Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)||Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela|
|Freeman, Rt Hon Roger||Sackville, Tom|
|French, Douglas||Salmond, Alex|
|Gallie, Phil||Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian|
|Gillan, Cheryl||Skinner, Dennis|
|Godman, Dr Norman A||Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)|
|Godsiff, Roger||Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)|
|Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair||Soames, Nicholas|
|Grocott, Bruce||Spellar, John|
|Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn||Spencer, Sir Derek|
|Heald, Oliver||Spicer, Sir Michael (S Worcs)|
|Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David||Spink Dr Robert|
|Hendry, Charles||Spring, Richard|
|Hodge, Margaret||Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)|
|Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)||Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)|
|Horam, John||Sykes, John|
|Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)||Taylor, Ian (Esher)|
|Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)||Taylor, John M (Solihull)|
|Jack, Michael||Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)|
|Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)||Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)|
|Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)||Thurnham, Peter|
|Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)||Tipping, Paddy|
|Jones, Robert B (Wm Hertfdshr)||Trend, Michael|
|Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine||Waldegrave, Rt Hon William|
|King, Rt Hon Tom||Walley, Joan|
|Knapman, Roger||Ward, John|
|Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)||Waterson, Nigel|
|Knight, Rt Hon Greg (Derby N)||Wells, Bowen|
|Kynoch, George (Kincardine)||Welsh, Andrew|
|Lamont, Rt Hon Norman||Widdecombe, Ann|
|Lang, Rt Hon Ian||Wilson, Brian|
|Legg, Barry||Young, Rt Hon Sir George|
|Lord, Michael||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Loyden, Eddie||Mr. Timothy Wood and Mr. Michael Bates.|
|Ainger, Nick||Dowd, Jim|
|Aitken, Rt Hon Jonathan||Duncan Smith, Iain|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)||Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth|
|Allason, Rupert (Torbay)||Durant, Sir Anthony|
|Allen, Graham||Dykes, Hugh|
|Alton, David||Eagle, Ms Angela|
|Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)||Eastham, Ken|
|Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)||Etherington, Bill|
|Ashby, David||Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)|
|Ashton, Joe||Evans, John (St Helens N)|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Fatchett, Derek|
|Atkins, Rt Hon Robert||Faulds, Andrew|
|Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E)||Field, Frank (Birkenhead)|
|Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||Fishburn, Dudley|
|Baker, Rt Hon Kenneth (Mole V)||Fisher, Mark|
|Banks, Robert (Harrogate)||Flynn, Paul|
|Barron, Kevin||Forman, Nigel|
|Battle, John||Forsythe, Clifford (S Antrim)|
|Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret||Foster, Don (Bath)|
|Beggs, Roy||Foulkes, George|
|Bell, Stuart||Fox, Rt Hon Sir Marcus (Shipley)|
|Bendall, Vivian||Fraser, John|
|Bennett, Andrew F||Fry, Sir Peter|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Fyfe, Maria|
|Betts, Clive||Galbraith, Sam|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Gale, Roger|
|Blunkett David||Galloway, George|
|Boateng, Paul||Gapes, Mike|
|Body, Sir Richard||Gardiner, Sir George|
|Booth, Hartley||Garrett, John|
|Bowden, Sir Andrew||George, Bruce|
|Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes||Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John|
|Bradley, Keith||Golding, Mrs Llin|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Gordon, Mildred|
|Brown, M (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)||Gorman, Mrs Teresa|
|Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)||Gorst Sir John|
|Budgen, Nicholas||Graham, Thomas|
|Butcher, John||Grant Sir A (SW Cambs)|
|Butterfill, John||Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)|
|Callaghan, Jim||Greenway, John (Ryedale)|
|Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)||Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)|
|Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)||Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)|
|Cann, Jamie||Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)|
|Carlile, Alexander (Montgomery)||Grylls, Sir Michael|
|Carlisle, John (Luton North)||Gunnell, John|
|Carrington, Matthew||Hain, Peter|
|Carttiss, Michael||Hall, Mike|
|Cash, William||Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archibald|
|Chidgey, David||Hampson, Dr Keith|
|Churchill, Mr||Hannam, Sir John|
|Clapham, Michael||Hanson, David|
|Clark, Dr David (South Shields)||Hardy, Peter|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)||Harvey, Nick|
|Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)||Haselhurst, Sir Alan|
|Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)||Hawksley, Warren|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||Heath, Rt Hon Sir Edward|
|Coffey, Ann||Henderson, Doug|
|Connarty, Michael||Hicks, Sir Robert|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton N)||Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence|
|Cope, Rt Hon Sir John||Hill, Sir James (Southampton Test)|
|Corbett, Robin||Hill, Keith (Streatham)|
|Cormack, Sir Patrick||Hoey, Kate|
|Cousins, Jim||Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)|
|Cox, Tom||Hood, Jimmy|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Hoon, Geoffrey|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)||Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter|
|Dafis, Cynog||Howarth, George (Knowsley North)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)|
|Davidson, Ian||Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)||Howells, Dr Kim (Pontypridd)|
|Davies, Quentin (Stamford)||Hoyle, Doug|
|Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)||Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)|
|Dixon, Don||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Dobson, Frank||Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W)|
|Donohoe, Brian H||Hughes, Roy (Newport E)|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark)||Pawsey, James|
|Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)||Pearson, Ian|
|Hunter, Andrew||Pendry, Tom|
|Illsley, Eric||Pickthall, Colin|
|Ingram, Adam||Pike, Peter L|
|Jamieson, David||Powell, Sir Ray (Ogmore)|
|Janner, Greville||Quin, Ms Joyce|
|Jessel, Toby||Radice, Giles|
|Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey||Randall, Stuart|
|Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)||Rathbone, Tim|
|Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)||Raynsford, Nick|
|Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)||Reid, Dr John|
|Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)||Rendel, David|
|Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn|
|Jowell, Tessa||Rogers, Allan|
|Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald||Rooker, Jeff|
|Keen, Alan||Rooney, Terry|
|Kennedy, Jane (L'pool Br'dg'n)||Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)|
|Key, Robert||Ross, William (E Londonderry)|
|Khabra, Piara S||Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)|
|Kilfoyle, Peter||Rowlands, Ted|
|Kirkwood, Archy||Sainsbury, Rt Hon Sir Timothy|
|Knight Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)||Scott, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas|
|Knox, Sir David||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Leigh, Edward||Shaw, David (Dover)|
|Lestor, Joan (Eccles)||Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)|
|Lewis, Terry||Sheerman, Barry|
|Liddell, Mrs Helen||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|Litherland, Robert||Shepherd, Sir Colin (Hereford)|
|Livingstone, Ken||Shersby, Sir Michael|
|Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)||Sims, Sir Roger|
|McAllion, John||Skeet, Sir Trevor|
|McAvoy, Thomas||Smith, Chris (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)|
|McCartney, Ian||Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)|
|McFall, John||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|MacGregor, Rt Hon John||Smyth, The Reverend Martin|
|McKelvey, William||Soley, Clive|
|McLeish, Henry||Speed, Sir Keith|
|Maclennan, Robert||Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John|
|McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick||Steel, Rt Hon Sir David|
|McNamara, Kevin||Steen, Anthony|
|MacShane, Denis||Steinberg, Gerry|
|McWilliam, John||Stevenson, George|
|Madden, Max||Stewart, Allan|
|Madel, Sir David||Stott, Roger|
|Marek, Dr John||Strang, Dr. Gavin|
|Marlow, Tony||Straw, Jack|
|Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)||Sumberg, David|
|Martin, Michael J (Springburn)||Sweeney, Walter|
|Meacher, Michael||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|Meale, Alan||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)|
|Michael, Alun||Taylor, Matthew (Truro)|
|Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Miller, Andrew||Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)|
|Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)||Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)|
|Mitchell, Sir David (NW Hants)||Thornton, Sir Malcolm|
|Moate, Sir Roger||Touhig, Don|
|Monro, Rt Hon Sir Hector||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Montgomery, Sir Fergus||Townsend, Cyril D (Bexl'yh'th)|
|Moonie, Dr Lewis||Tracey, Richard|
|Morgan, Rhodri||Tredinnick, David|
|Morley, Elliot||Trickett, Jon|
|Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wy'nshawe)||Trotter, Neville|
|Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Murphy, Paul||Tyler, Paul|
|Needham, Rt Hon Richard||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Neubert, Sir Michael||Vaz, Keith|
|Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon||Viggers, Peter|
|O'Brien, William (Normanton)||Walden, George|
|O'Hara, Edward||Walker, Bill (N Tayside)|
|Olner, Bill||Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold|
|O'Neill, Martin||Wallace, James|
|Orme, Rt Hon Stanley||Warden, Gareth (Gower)|
|Parry, Robert||Wareing, Robert N|
|Patnick, Sir Irvine||Whitney, Ray|
|Whittingdale, John||Worthington, Tony|
|Wiggin, Sir Jerry||Wray, Jimmy|
|Wigley, Dafydd||Wright, Dr Tony|
|Wilkinson, John||Yeo, Tim|
|Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Winnick, David||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)||Mr. John Home Robertson|
|Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)||and|
|Wolfson, Mark||Mr. Peter Bottomley.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.