HC Deb 19 May 1998 vol 312 cc767-74
Mr. Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury)

I beg to move amendment No. 22, in page 35, line 24, at beginning insert `Subject to subsections (6) to (8) below,'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 23, in page 35, line 26, at beginning insert `Subject to subsections (6) to (8) below,'. Government amendment No. 151.

No. 21, in page 35, line 46, at end insert— '(6) The Parliament shall ensure that no salary or allowance paid to a member of the Parliament under subsection (1) shall exceed those for the time being paid to members of the House of the Commons. (7) The Parliament shall ensure that no salary or allowance paid to the First Minister shall exceed the average salary or allowance for the time being paid to a Secretary of State in the United Kingdom Cabinet. (8) The Parliament shall ensure that no salary or allowance paid to a member of the Scottish Executive other than the First Minister shall exceed the salary or allowance for the time being paid to a Minister of State in the United Kingdom Government.'. Government amendment No. 242.

Mr. Robertson

The amendments are intended to ensure that no salary or allowance paid to a Member of the Scottish Parliament shall exceed that paid to a Member of this House; that no salary or allowance paid to the First Minister shall exceed the average paid to a Secretary of State in the United Kingdom Parliament; and that no salary or allowance paid to a Member of the Scottish Executive other than the First Minister shall exceed that paid to a Minister of State in the UK Government.

Those are the details of the amendments. The reasoning behind them is to protect and strengthen the Union; to reflect the fact that the Scottish Parliament is a subordinate legislature; and to recognise that the work and responsibilities of Members of the Scottish Parliament are different from those of Members of this House.

The amendments are in keeping with the precedent set following elections to the European Parliament in 1979. The work load and responsibilities of Members—

Mr. Salmond

If the hon. Gentleman were a time and motion man, and bearing in mind his experience as a constituency Member of Parliament and his knowledge of the functions being devolved to the Scottish Parliament and those being retained by Westminster, could he estimate whether the Member of Parliament in Westminster or the Member in Edinburgh will have the greatest constituency work load?

Mr. Robertson

The hon. Gentleman is either extremely well informed or very unlucky, because I used to be a time and motion person, and I assessed work loads each and every day. If he will allow me to proceed, I will explain my view.

It cannot justifiably be claimed that Members of the Scottish Parliament will have the same work loads, or the same degree of responsibility, as exist in this place. That is especially true of the additional Members, whose presence will reduce the work load and responsibilities of those who represent constituencies. As we heard today, the Government recommend that the two different sorts of Member should be paid the same. Therefore, it is only right that Members of the Scottish Parliament should not receive more pay than Members of this House, and our amendments will ensure that that is the case.

As for the First Minister, I am aware that the Secretary of State for Scotland has his eye on the job, but I am confident that he could survive on a salary of no more than £106,716, which is what he receives as a Cabinet Minister in the United Kingdom Government.

Mr. John M. Taylor (Solihull)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way, as he is doing so well at the Dispatch Box, but I think that I am the only person in the Chamber who has been simultaneously a Member of this Parliament and the European Parliament for 12 months at the whim of the electors. That experience rewarded me with a salary of one and one third. There seems to be some merit in that, and at the very least, it is a precedent.

Mr. Robertson

It is indeed a precedent, and one which I am about to mention.

I do not believe that anyone is suggesting that the pay of the First Minister should exceed the figure I quoted. Our amendments will ensure that it will not.

Under our amendments, Members of the Scottish Executive could receive up to £77,047 in pay. I am equally confident that no one would suggest that, comparably, that would be inadequate. However, there is a deeper point about salaries, which is that the Scottish Parliament is essentially a subordinate Parliament, and therefore it would be very odd indeed to pay its Members more than Members of the supreme and sovereign United Kingdom Parliament.

Our objection to that is not born of greed or resentment, but of a desire to protect the Union. Because the Scottish Parliament is new and people have high hopes of it, there may be a temptation, especially if the Parliament is dominated by Scottish nationalists, to attempt to enhance its standing. One way to do so would be by paying its Members more than Members of this House receive, which would be an odd and dangerous thing to do.

In those circumstances, the comparable link would be broken, and that would weaken the Union. It is important that the subordinate character of the Scottish Parliament be maintained, and be seen to be maintained, if we are to preserve the Union. Therefore, a cap needs to be applied to what Members of the Scottish Parliament receive, and our amendments would do exactly that.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Solihull (Mr. Taylor) said, there is a precedent, which is the European Assembly (Pay and Pensions) Act 1979. It limits the salaries of Members of the European Parliament to those paid to Members of this House. A Conservative Government passed that Act, but the Labour party supported it. On Second Reading, the then shadow Home Secretary, Merlyn Rees, said: I believe that to have paid the new members of the European Assembly higher salaries than those of Members of this Parliament … would have been an affront". He was right, but his reason for taking that view was even more important. He said: I agree with the Home Secretary that in no way should the European Assembly detract from the supremacy of this Parliament."—[Official Report, 22 June 1979; Vol. 968, c. 1679.] That is the crucial point. Lord Merlyn-Rees was right for more than just one reason. The fact is that he realised that paying higher salaries to Members of the European Parliament than those paid to Members of this House was objectionable for constitutional reasons. Those same objections exist in the case of a Scottish Parliament. The public tend to place importance on how much people are paid.

Mr. Salmond

The hon. Gentleman rests his case too much on that argument. I once worked for the Royal Bank of Scotland, where, for example, a merchant banker was paid more than the chairman of the bank, although he was a subordinate because of the scale. I am not sure about his argument, but I am sure that, if he is a time and motion man, he must realise that the work load of Members of Parliament here will decrease when the Scottish Parliament is established. On that logical basis, what salary reduction will he suggest, as all the hon. Members here today will not have to do that sort of work in future? Their work loads will decline, and so should their salaries.

Mr. Robertson

We are not certain—because the questions have not yet been answered, we do not know how things will work. We are still searching for an answer to the West Lothian question, so we do not know how the arrangements will work in practice. We shall have to wait and see, but I certainly do not recommend that any Members of this Parliament should have to take any reduction in pay.

Mr. James Gray (North Wiltshire)

Does my hon. Friend agree that the only Members of Parliament who will be doing significantly less work are Members representing Scottish constituencies who remain at Westminster? North Wiltshire will still demand the same amount of work, but will representing Banff and Buchan in this place require the same amount of work after the establishment of the new Scottish Parliament?

5.30 pm
Mr. Robertson

The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) will have a reduced work load; nevertheless, I would not suggest that he should take a lower salary.

The public tend to attach importance to how much people are paid; they tend to judge the worth of persons or organisations on the basis of how much income they receive—perhaps the reason why the public do not value Members of this Parliament highly is that we are inadequately paid, but that is another argument. It is important that Members of the Scottish Parliament do not receive higher salaries than Members of the House of Commons. It is important that the salaries they are paid recognise what I maintain will be a lower work load and less responsibility—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but I have to tell the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) that he must not conduct a mini-debate while the main debate is taking place.

Mr. Robertson

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker—the subject is an interesting one.

It is important to preserve the subordinate character of the Scottish Parliament, and to prevent it from becoming a quango that feathers its own nest. It is vital that we preserve the Union, and doing as the amendments propose would be consistent with the precedent set by the European Assembly (Pay and Pensions) Act 1979, to which I referred. Our amendments would achieve all that. They would ensure fairness, and, in doing so, protect the Union. For those reasons, I commend amendments Nos. 22, 23 and 21 to the House.

Mr. Dalyell

In the past five minutes, a whole collective of cats has been let out among the pigeons. Without wishing to talk down to the hon. Member for Tewkesbury (Mr. Robertson), I should warn him not to be naive. He was unfair to the Scottish National party: it is not only the SNP that will take the view he describes, but every Member of the Holyrood Parliament, because it is in the nature of politicians to think that the institution they are in is the important institution. It is not only, or even mainly, a question of financial greed; amour propre will come into it.

If the hon. Gentleman wants an example, I shall give one from my own party. Those who were pro-Europeans listened to Barbara Castle, then the hon. Member for Blackburn, endlessly criticising the Community and the dreadful institution in Strasbourg; but heaven knows, as soon as she herself got there, as Lady Castle of the British delegation, it metamorphosed into a most important institution.

Mr. John M. Taylor

May I remind the hon. Gentleman that Barbara Castle was not just a member of the delegation, but that she was directly elected in 1979?

Mr. Dalyell

We all knew it, very clearly. I say this seriously: it is in the nature of politicians that they will shout for the institution where they themselves happen to be. Do not let us think that it is only the Scottish National party that will do that; it will be every Member of the Parliament. They will say, "We are doing more work than those people in Westminster." I shall be mildly interested to see what is the reaction, first, of my colleagues who remain at Westminster and, secondly, of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and of my hon. Friend the Minister for Home Affairs and Devolution, both of whom will by that time be Members of another body, because position in that body will have a marvellous way of changing attitudes.

Mr. McLeish

It is instructive to note that today's Scottish edition of the Daily Express contains the following: Scottish Conservatives spokesman Paul Cullen"— who is a member of the consultative steering group— said that if Holyrood was to be taken seriously then salaries had to be comparable with the current Westminster level. `It would be undesirable to create a two-tier system of MSPs,' he insisted. The Government are attempting to set an objective basis for deliberations on this matter, which is why my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State wrote to the chairman of the Senior Salaries Review Body on 25 March asking him to consider and make recommendations regarding salaries, allowances and pensions benefits which would be payable to Members of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Executive.

In that context, it is unreasonable to lay down in the Bill limitations on the levels of salaries and allowances which the Scottish Parliament can set for its Members, the First Minister or other members of the Scottish Executive, so we strongly resist the amendments. Much of this debate was not about salaries, allowances or pensions, but old Conservatives expressing old prejudices about subordinate Parliaments. That is not the spirit in which we have to move forward.

In the short time left, I commend Government amendments Nos. 151 and 242 to the House.

It being one hour and thirty minutes after the commencement of proceedings on consideration of the Bill, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order [13 January] and the Resolution [12 May], put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 121, Noes 308.

Division No. 280] [5.35 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey) Cash, William
Amess, David Clappison, James
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington)
Arbuthnot, James Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Baldry, Tony Collins, Tim
Bercow, John Cran, James
Beresford, Sir Paul Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Blunt, Crispin Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Boswell, Tim Day, Stephen
Brady, Graham Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Brazier, Julian Duncan Smith, Iain
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela Evans, Nigel
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Faber, David
Burns, Simon Fabricant, Michael
Butterfill, John Fallon, Michael
Forth, Rt Hon Eric Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman May, Mrs Theresa
Fox, Dr Liam Moss, Malcolm
Gale, Roger Nicholls, Patrick
Garnier, Edward Norman, Archie
Gibb, Nick Ottaway, Richard
Gill, Christopher Page, Richard
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl Paice, James
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Paterson, Owen
Gray, James Randall, John
Green, Damian Redwood, Rt Hon John
Greenway, John Robathan, Andrew
Grieve, Dominic Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Gummer, Rt Hon John Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie Ruffley, David
Hammond, Philip St Aubyn, Nick
Hawkins, Nick Sayeed, Jonathan
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas Shepherd, Richard
Horam, John Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Hunter, Andrew Spicer, Sir Michael
Jack, Rt Hon Michael Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Steen, Anthony
Jenkin, Bernard Streeter, Gary
Johnson Smith, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Key, Robert Tapsell, Sir Peter
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater) Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor Taylor, Sir Teddy
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Tredinnick, David
Lansley, Andrew Trend, Michael
Leigh, Edward Tyrie, Andrew
Letwin, Oliver Waterson, Nigel
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E) Wells, Bowen
Lidington, David Whitney, Sir Raymond
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham) Whittingdale, John
Loughton, Tim Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Luff, Peter Wilkinson, John
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Willetts, David
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Woodward, Shaun
MacKay, Andrew Yeo, Tim
Maclean, Rt Hon David Young, Rt Hon Sir George
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey Tellers for the Ayes:
Maples, John Sir David Madel and
Mates, Michael Mr. Oliver Heald.
Ainger, Nick Brand, Dr Peter
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Breed, Colin
Alexander, Douglas Brinton, Mrs Helen
Allan, Richard Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Allen, Graham Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale) Browne, Desmond
Armstrong, Ms Hilary Buck, Ms Karen
Ashton, Joe Burden, Richard
Austin, John Burgon, Colin
Baker, Norman Burnett, John
Banks, Tony Burstow, Paul
Barnes, Harry Byers, Stephen
Bayley, Hugh Caborn, Richard
Beard, Nigel Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Bell, Martin (Tatton) Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Benton, Joe Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)
Berry, Roger Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Betts, Clive Campbell-Savours, Dale
Blackman, Liz Caplin, Ivor
Blears, Ms Hazel Caton, Martin
Blizzard, Bob Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Blunkett, Rt Hon David Chaytor, David
Boateng, Paul Chidgey, David
Borrow, David Chisholm, Malcolm
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Clapham, Michael
Bradshaw, Ben Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Brake, Tom Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge) Home Robertson, John
Clwyd, Ann Hood, Jimmy
Coaker, Vernon Hoon, Geoffrey
Colman, Tony Hope, Phil
Connarty, Michael Hopkins, Kelvin
Cooper, Yvette Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Corbett, Robin Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Corston, Ms Jean Hoyle, Lindsay
Cotter, Brian Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Cranston, Ross Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Crausby, David Humble, Mrs Joan
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley) Hurst, Alan
Cryer, John (Hornchurch) Hutton, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S) Iddon, Dr Brian
Cunningham, Ms Roseanna (Perth) Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Dafis, Cynog Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Dalyell, Tam Jenkins, Brian
Darvill, Keith Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Davey, Edward (Kingston) Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C) Jones, leuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)
Dawson, Hilton Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Denham, John Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Dewar, Rt Hon Donald Jowell, Ms Tessa
Dismore, Andrew Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Dobbin, Jim Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank Keetch, Paul
Doran, Frank Kemp, Fraser
Dowd, Jim Kennedy, Charles (Ross Skye)
Drew, David Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey) Khabra, Piara S
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston) Kidney, David
Ellman, Mrs Louise Kilfoyle, Peter
Ennis, Jeff King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Fearn, Ronnie King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Fitzpatrick, Jim Kingham, Ms Tess
Fitzsimons, Lorna Kirkwood, Archy
Flint, Caroline Kumar, Dr Ashok
Follett, Barbara Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Leslie, Christopher
Foster, Don (Bath) Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings) Linton, Martin
Foster, Michael J (Worcester) Livingstone, Ken
Fyfe, Maria Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Galbraith, Sam Llwyd, Elfyn
Gardiner, Barry Lock, David
George, Andrew (St Ives) Love, Andrew
George, Bruce (Walsall S) McAllion, John
Gerrard, Neil McAvoy, Thomas
Gibson, Dr Ian McCabe, Steve
Godsiff, Roger McCafferty, Ms Chris
Goggins, Paul McCartney, Ian (Makerfield)
Gorrie, Donald McDonagh, Siobhain
Grant, Bernie Macdonald, Calum
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) McDonnell, John
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) McFall, John
Grogan, John McGuire, Mrs Anne
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale) McLeish, Henry
Hall, Patrick (Bedford) Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE) McNulty, Tony
Hancock, Mike MacShane, Denis
Hanson, David Mactaggart, Fiona
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet McWilliam, John
Harris, Dr Evan Mahon, Mrs Alice
Healey, John Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich) Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Hepburn, Stephen Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Heppell, John Martlew, Eric
Hesford, Stephen Meale, Alan
Hewitt, Ms Patricia Merron, Gillian
Hill, Keith Michael, Alun
Hinchliffe, David Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Hodge, Ms Margaret Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Milburn, Alan Sawford, Phil
Miller, Andrew Sedgemore, Brian
Mitchell, Austin Sheerman, Barry
Moffatt, Laura Singh, Marsha
Moonie, Dr Lewis Skinner, Dennis
Moore, Michael Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Moran, Ms Margaret Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway) Snape, Peter
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W) Soley, Clive
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley) Spellar, John
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon) Squire, Ms Rachel
Mudie, George Steinberg, Gerry
Mullin, Chris Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood) Stinchcombe, Paul
Norris, Dan Stoate, Dr Howard
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks) Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
O'Neill, Martin Stuart, Ms Gisela
Organ, Mrs Diana Sutcliffe, Gerry
Osborne, Ms Sandra Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Perham, Ms Linda Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Pickthall, Colin Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Pike, Peter L Tipping, Paddy
Plaskitt, James Todd, Mark
Pollard, Kerry Tonge, Dr Jenny
Pond, Chris Touhig, Don
Pope, Greg Trickett, Jon
Pound, Stephen Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Powell, Sir Raymond Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E) Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Primarolo, Dawn Wallace, James
Purchase, Ken Walley, Ms Joan
Quin, Ms Joyce Ward, Ms Claire
Quinn, Lawrie Welsh, Andrew
Radice, Giles White, Brian
Rammell, Bill Whitehead, Dr Alan
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough) Wicks, Malcolm
Reid, Dr John (Hamilton N) Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Rendel, David Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Robertson, Rt Hon George (Hamilton S)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW) Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Rogers, Allan Willis, Phil
Rooker, Jeff Wills, Michael
Rooney, Terry Winnick, David
Roy, Frank Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Ruddock, Ms Joan Wise, Audrey
Russell, Bob (Colchester) Wood, Mike
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester) Woolas, Phil
Ryan, Ms Joan Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Salmond, Alex Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Adrian Tellers for the Noes:
Sarwar, Mohammad Mr. Jon Owen Jones and
Savidge, Malcolm Mr. David Clelland.

Question accordingly negatived.

MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that hour.

Amendments made: No. 151, in page 35, line 32, leave out 'or other place' and insert 'employment or other post'.

No. 49, in page 35, line 43, leave out 'addressed to' and insert 'conferring functions on'.—[Mr. McFall.]

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