§ 4.18 p.m.
My Lords, with permission, I should like to repeat a Statement on the salaries of the Judiciary and of senior officers of the Armed Forces which has just been made in another place by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister. This is the Statement:
"The Government announced on August 7 last that the final stage of the salary increases recommended in 1969 for the Higher Civil Service and for chairmen, deputy chairmen and members of nationalised industry Boards would be implemented from January 1, 1971.
"Following this announcement, members of the Judiciary were given an assurance that Orders would be 811 laid before Parliament to increase their salaries from the same date, so as to bring them into a proper relationship with the new levels for Permanent Secretaries. Orders to give effect to this undertaking have been laid to-day.
"Increases from January 1, 1971, have also been recommended for senior officers of the Armed Forces in Report No. 157 of the National Board for Prices and Incomes. The Government have accepted these recommendations. A number of advance copies of the Report are available in the Vote Office"—
in our case, in the Printed Paper Office—
"and others are being placed in the Library. Full distribution is delayed until to-morrow by a 'go slow'.
"I have, however, to inform the House that senior members of these four groups of public servants have said that they would wish to follow an example set by the Lord Chief Justice, who has in the national interest offered to forgo the increase in his salary for six months. Members of the Higher Judiciary, Permanent Secretaries in the Civil Service and equivalent grades in the Diplomatic Service, and the chairmen and deputy chairmen of the major nationalised industry Boards are also ready to forgo for six months the increases in salary due to them from January 1, 1971.
"Because of differences in the amounts and timing of previous salary changes, the increases recommended for senior officers in the Armed Forces are substantially larger at this point of time than those for Permanent Secretaries, but the Chief of the Defence Staff and officers of the rank of Admiral, General and Air Chief Marshal, wish to make an equivalent gesture by forgoing for six months half the increase due to them under the National Board for Prices and Incomes Report.
"I am sure that the House will welcome this public-spirited action on the part of these senior public servants."
My Lords, that concludes the Prime Minister's statement.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl. I know 812 how concerned he has been in ensuring that public servants were properly paid, and of course we are grateful for the public-spirited action on the part of these senior public servants. However, this does serve to conceal rather large increases. We have in fact two sets of increases: one for the Higher Judiciary—and I should be the first to admit that the position of the Higher Judiciary has dropped very heavily in comparison. They have only had two, or now perhaps three, increases since 1825, and my noble friend Lord Gardiner may have something to say on this.
But, looking at the Armed Forces, as I understand the position, the proposals are for an increase for Field Marshals and Generals of something over 30 per cent., and I really think that the Government are covering up. They say how splendid everyone has been, but I doubt whether the House realises just how big the increases are. Of course, in addition there are senior responsibility allowances, and so on. An increase from £10.500 or £11.500 to £15.000, if only half is to be given, is still a fairly hefty increase. Equally, I would agree that, because of the tax implications, this is not worth as much as it sounds; but as a gesture I do not regard this as a substitute for a proper incomes policy. If the Government are hoping that this sort of action at this sort of level is going to have an effect on trade union negotiations, then I think they should extend the steps they take to achieve voluntary action rather more widely than in the public service.
In this connection, I should be interested to know—though I do not wish to depreciate the value of the gesture that has been made—how it was that all these people came forward and offered to accent this cut. The fact that it is voluntary, as I understand it, will have the effect of ensuring (which I welcome) that they will still be pensioned at the full rate rather than at the reduced rate. Perhaps the noble Earl will confirm this.
These are important factors, and I would only say that I am sorry the Government have not been more explicit in their Statement as to the extent of the increases that are being made. But the noble Lord knows that I personally have welcomed the efforts he makes to 813 see that those for whom he is responsible get the remuneration which is their due.
My Lords, on the whole I am grateful to the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition for his response to the Statement which I have just repeated. I should only like to make it clear that there has been no intention whatever on the part of the Government to disguise the extent of the increases proposed by a completely impartial body—increases, incidentally, which the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition is very well informed about, and which were not disguised from your Lordships' House, or from Parliament, in the Statement which was made by Her Majesty's Government in August, and full information about which is available in the Printed Paper Office at this moment.
In response to the single question put to me by the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition I can of course confirm that since this is a purely voluntary gesture—and one which I should have thought deserved rather more welcome from the noble Lord than he has felt able to give it—the pension increases which will follow from these salary increases are in fact fully safeguarded.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl how al this time he can reconcile this increase of 30 per cent. to these people and at the same time denounce the strikers because they refuse to accent 10 per cent.?
My Lords, I am not denouncing the strikers, and I do not quite know what words of denunciation the noble Baroness has heard fall from my lips. Nor do I quite know why she says that there is an increase of 30 per cent., because a great deal of the increase has been voluntarily foregone by these very senior and public-spirited public servants.
§ LORD POPPLEWELL
My Lords, my noble friend mentioned a little earlier that a 10 per cent. increase had been offered to the electricity workers. We are now told that certain increases have been awarded to these very highly paid individuals, but we have not been told what the percentage or the amount is: we are asked to wait and pick it up in the Printed Paper Office. Surely since these 814 two Statements have been made within a few minutes of each other it would be to the benefit of the House as a whole if the increase to a Field Marshal were given as an actual percentage, or if we were given the actual figure—and the same applies to the Higher Judiciary—although some of these people have agreed either to forego half the increase or to forego it for six months.
My Lords, I can only say that the increases which were recommended in full implementation on January 1 of next year for the Higher Civil Service and for senior members of the nationalised boards were made perfectly clear on the Statement made by Her Majesty's Government on August 7. Also I should like to remind the noble Lord that these increases were recommended by an absolutely impartial Committee—the Plowden Committee—for implementation as from the middle of 1969, and they have been deferred until now as a result of action taken. I am not saying whether this was right or wrong, but they have been deferred as a result of a decision taken by the last Administration. But the level of increase recommended by that impartial Committee was due to be implemented from the middle of 1969.
§ LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR
My Lords, is not the essential difference between these two cases that the salaries of these high posts have been recommended by an impartial tribunal, whereas the representatives of the electricity supply workers are not willing to have their case submitted to an impartial tribunal? Is my noble friend aware that the great majority of people in this country will hardly sympathise with the somewhat cynical reaction of the Leader of the Opposition to this announcement but, on the contrary, will consider that these people are setting a very notable example?
My Lords, I entirely agree with the remarks made by my noble friend, and I am grateful to him for them.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I find it really rather intolerable that the noble Lord should make remarks of this 815 kind. I quite understand that the Government are in a difficult position, and one in which I found myself. But one is bound to point out that these are very large increases, and I think it is a pity that the Government, instead of saying that they have published them and that they are available in the Printed Paper Office, did not give us the figures to-day. The Statement in August was made after the House rose, but I congratulate the noble Lord. They have learned a little wisdom in the meantime: having promised various things to the doctors, they went back on that promise. They announced these increases, and now apparently they have been persuaded by these admittedly, I fully acknowledge, public-spirited people, especially the judges, that they were wrong to give them these increases. And of course the Government now have to create machinery. They failed to use the machinery that we were creating. I do not know how they are going to fix judges' salaries in the future. Have they got machinery for them? I think we shall at some time have to discuss this.
My Lords, I am not Quite certain whether the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition was asking me a question, but it was in fact announced on November 2 by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Employment that the pay of all four groups involved here would in future be considered by a review body serviced by an office of manpower economics. This was made perfectly clear by my right honourable friend five weeks ago in another place.
My Lords, I have a feeling that Field-Marshals do not retire, but I think I need notice of that question. They are not on full pay when they have left active service.
§ LORD BALOGH
My Lords, does the noble Earl believe that the Scamp Committee was partial, when he contrasts this impartial committee with the Scamp Committee? And does he remember that his right honourable friend the Prime Minister 816 denounced the Scamp Committee in unreasonable terms for a very much slighter increase to very much lower paid people?
My Lords, I am not quite certain what the noble Lord, Lord Balogh, is referring to. Within my recollection, I have made no reference whatsoever to the Scamp Committee. I have merely referred to the fact that the Plowden Committee was entirely impartial.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, the noble Earl said that he agreed with his noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor in the remark that this was justified because it was recommended by an impartial Committee; that it was the impartiality of it which justified this large increase to highly paid workers. My noble friend Lord Balogh is asking whether this is intended to mean that the Scamp Committee was not an impartial Committee. Will the noble Earl say what he thinks.
My Lords, if the noble Lord will read Hansard tomorrow—if we are able to—he will see that I made no reference of any sort.
§ LORD GARDINER
My Lords, can the noble Earl say what is the impartial Committee which has considered judicial remuneration?
My Lords, I was referring here, so far as the impartial Committee was concerned, to the Plowden Committee, to which the salaries of the higher civil servants and of the senior members of the nationalised industries were referred.
§ BARONESS LEE OF ASHERIDGE
My Lords, will the noble Earl use his influence to ensure that when what we call impartial Committees are set up they keep in mind that we are no longer living in a static society, and that differentials, high or low, which might have been acceptable in the past are no longer acceptable?
My Lords, I think that is certainly a consideration which all Governments should bear in mind.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, while appreciating and applauding the action of the public servants affected in renouncing their increase for a period of six months, may I ask what the effect on pensions will be of those who have already retired in such categories? Will they also be given an opportunity, if they have an increase, for renouncing such increase during the period of the emergency?
My Lords, I think I should need notice of that question. So far as I know, the pension of anybody who has retired beforehand will not be affected by what I have just said. In fact, the pensions of these very senior public servants who have made this voluntary renunciation will not be affected.
§ LORD POPPLEWELL
My Lords, can the noble Earl say whether these impartial Committees have been requested, when considering their awards, to take into consideration other factors affecting the economy, in the same way that courts of inquiry into industrial disputes have all been asked, when considering their awards, to take into account the effects on the economy and country in other fields? Has the same recommendation taken place?
My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord. I did not catch the first part of his question; I was momentarily distracted.
§ LORD POPPLEWELL
My Lords, I was asking the noble Earl whether, like many other courts of inquiry, these impartial Committees have been requested to have in mind the relationship of the award they may give to the economy of the country as a whole?
My Lords, I think I should need notice of the noble Lord's question, because, of course, the Plowden Committee was set up by the previous Government. Of course, the staging which was introduced by the previous Government, and which has created (I am not saying this in a partial way at all) some of these problems, did take account of the economic situation.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I do not want to prolong this discussion, but I am bound, since I was the Minister 818 responsible at the time, to point out that the Plowden Committee did take into account a very wide range of factors, and of course the National Board for Prices and Incomes also considered very wide economic issues. I think it is fair to have this on the Record.
§ LORD GARDINER
My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl how many judges will be in receipt of larger remuneration than the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, who is head of the Judiciary?
My Lords, I am afraid that I cannot precisely answer the noble and learned Lord's question, and from the enigmatic smile on the Lord Chancellor's face I am not getting much help from him at this moment; but I will write to the noble and learned Lord and let him have that information.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I do not know whether I can help; I have not myself considered my own comparability. But the noble Lord will know, probably, as well as I do, that whereas the judges can have their salaries improved by Order in Council, the Lord Chancellor requires an Act of Parliament, and nothing else will do.