HL Deb 22 July 1980 vol 412 cc201-6

3.8 p.m.


My Lords, there are two Motions standing in my name on the Order Paper. The first gives effect to an increase in the Peers' expenses allowance and the allowance for secretarial assistance for office holders in the Lords. The Peers' expenses allowance is divided into three separate elements, each with its own limit. The new limits which have been recommended by the Top Salaries Review Body in its Report No. 15, and which I propose should apply from the beginning of this month, are as follows. For Peers who necessarily have to use overnight accommodation away from their usual residence, a daily—perhaps I should say nightly—limit of £23.00 will apply. For day subsistence—that is, to cover meals and incidental travel—the limit will be £11.00. Secretarial costs, postage, and certain additional expenses as defined in the Review Body's 9th Report, may be met within a limit of £10.00 a day treated cumulatively—in other words, claims may be arranged to recover expenditure over a period.

These daily limits together total £44. However, I must make clear that we are talking about a maximum figure within which Members of this House may reclaim those sums which they have actually spent in attending to their parliamentary duties. I emphasise this point because it is not always clearly understood by people outside this House. Thus, only those Peers who actually have to incur overnight accommodation expenses in London may claim within the £23 limit. Other Peers will be restricted to the £21 total provided under the second two categories.

Office holders in this House can claim up to a limit of £1,000 per annum towards the cost of the secretarial assistance needed to deal with non-departmental correspondence arising by virtue of their position. The Review Body have recommended that this allowance should be increased to £1,175, and the Government propose that this increase be accepted. Again this figure is the maximum against which reimbursement of expenses that have actually been incurred in employing secretarial assistance to deal with non-departmental correspondence can be claimed.

The second Motion gives the approval of this House to the draft of the Ministerial and other Salaries and Pensions Order 1979. This order is designed to increase the pay of Ministers and office holders this year in line with proposals contained in my Statement to your Lordships on 7th July 1980. The order provides for the payment of the second stage of the increases recommended by the Review Body on Top Salaries last year, increased as for Members of Parliament by 9.6 per cent., save in the case of Cabinet Ministers and the Attorney-General. For them the increase has been reduced to 5 per cent. The order also provides for the same percentage increases to he applied to the third stage payments with effect from 13th June 1981. These latter rates will count for pension purposes from this year. While the pensions of the Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor will be calculated on this full rate, the order reflects their wish that the salaries they actually receive will be no more than other Cabinet Ministers. The order is made under the Ministerial and Other Salaries Act 1975, and the operative date of the increase will be the date on which the order is made, which is expected to be Monday, 28th July.

Your Lordships will be aware that junior Ministers in the House of Lords, unlike their counterparts in another place, do not receive any salary in respect of their parliamentary duties. This is a very real problem, as I said in my Statement on 7th July, and as, I believe, is generally recognised. The Government are considering how the arrangements for their remuneration should be revised, to take account of the considerable amount of work that they do in this House. We will bring forward proposals as quickly as possible.

As I see my noble friend Lord Boyle in his place today, I would not wish to end this Statement without paying our sincere tribute and expressing our thanks to Lord Boyle for all the work that he has put in, not only for this report, but also for other reports in the past. We are deeply grateful to him for all his assiduity in the work that he has done. My Lords, I beg to move the first order.

Moved, That this House approves the following proposals with respect to expenses incurred by Lords after 30th June 1980—

(1) members of this House, except any Lord who receives a salary under the Ministerial and other Salaries Act 1975 and the Chairman and Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees, shall be enabled to recover, in addition to the costs of travel for which other provision is made, but within the limits specified in (2) below, expenses certified by them as—

  1. (a) expenses incurred (otherwise than as mentioned in (c) below) for the purpose of attendance at sittings of this House or of Committees of this House other than judicial sittings; or
  2. (b) expenses incurred (otherwise than as mentioned in (c) below) for the purpose of attendance at judicial sittings of this House or Committees of this House or under section 9 of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 if incurred by Lords of Appeal who are neither Lords of Appeal in Ordinary nor holders of high judicial office within the meaning of that Act; or
  3. (c) expenses incurred in staying overnight away from their main or only residence, where this is necessary for the purpose stated in (a) above and also, if incurred by such Lords of Appeal as are mentioned in (b) above, where this is necessary for the purpose stated in (b) above; or
  4. (d) expenses incurred for the performance of their Parliamentary duties as general office expenses or on secretarial or research assistance.

(2) The limits are—

  1. (a) for (1)(a) and (1)(b) above, £11 for each day of attendance;
  2. (b) for (1)(c) above, £23 for each day of attendance;
  3. (c) for (1)(d) above, £10 multiplied by the number of days of attendance falling within paragraph (1)(a) or (1)(b) above.

(3) A Lord who receives a salary under the Ministerial and other Salaries Act 1975 and the Chairman and Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees shall be enabled to recover expenses certified by him as incurred on secretarial assistance for the purpose of his Parliamentary duties, but not exceeding £1,100 in any year.—(Lord Soames.)

3.12 p.m.


My Lords, I warmly support what the noble Lord has said. I am glad that he has made clear the real amounts that Peers may claim, and I hope that they will be understood; at least by the general public. On Ministerial salaries, I know from personal experience how hard Ministers in the Lords work. I believe that their work has not been really appreciated, and they get insufficient remuneration. So I hope that the efforts of the Lord President will be successful. I know that he is looking at this matter again and will have discussions. May I also pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Boyle, who has always been courteous when I have often appeared before his committee. He and his colleagues have worked very hard and I wish to join in the tribute that the noble Lord, Lord Soames, has paid to him.


My Lords, I should also like to support what the noble Lord, Lord Soames, and the noble Lord, Lord Peart, have said about the great work that the noble Lord, Lord Boyle, has done for so many people in public life. I should like to thank not only him, but all who work with him on the Top Salaries Review Body. On the question of junior Ministers in the House of Lords, this nettle must be grasped. They have not really been treated properly for a considerable number of years. I hope that this problem will now be taken on board, and that proper arrangements will be made for them.


My Lords, may I say a word or two in support of what the noble Lord, Lord Byers, said about the treatment of junior Ministers in this House. As he said, they have been very badly treated indeed for some years and their position is really quite urgent. All of us, whatever our political views and wherever in the House we sit, acknowledge that the junior Ministers, and particularly the Lords-in-Waiting, do a remarkable and strenuous job. When my noble friend replies, I hope that he will give some indication that the Government really do attach some urgency to dealing with this matter quickly, and will give some indication as to when the proposals are likely to be brought forward.


My Lords, may I ask the Lord President whether, at the same time as he is considering the junior Ministers, he will also consider—perhaps this is a different matter and I may be ruled out of order—Members on the Opposition Front bench who are putting in a terrific amount of time.


My Lords, I am grateful for all that various noble Lords have said on this matter. It is quite obvious that it is widely accepted in the House that junior Ministers need some improvement in their remuneration. In reply to my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter, who asked me specific questions, the fact that I said in my Statement that the Government are looking at this matter shows that we, too, are treating it seriously. We are looking at it with a view to doing something. The question is: what is best to be done? There are difficulties about every course. If I may, I will leave it at that for the time being. We have looked at a number of courses and we are trying to discover which is the best, the easiest and the most satisfactory to pursue, and I hope it will not be very long before a decision is reached.

On the question of other office holders—because I think that is all that was ever at issue—I am happy to say that the position of other office holders has been considerably improved during the course of this Parliament, compared with the last. This is not to say that they, too, do not have an important role to play and have very demanding jobs, and it is being considered whether or not the same reasons apply to other office holders as to Ministers, in the thought that is being given to this problem at the present time.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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